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The Aaron Judge Home Run Tracker: Game 160

A mid-doubleheader check-in on everyone’s favorite muscular masher.

Dan Brink

Welcome back to the Aaron Judge Home Run Record Tracker! We’re taking a daily look at where Aaron Judge’s monster season tracks compared to some of the other historic single-season home run leaders in anticipation of Judge potentially joining their ranks. We’ll be going by Team Game because not every player’s seasons were in sync with the calendar days and everyone didn’t play all of the team’s games, which makes this our universal standard. Let’s run through Game 160:

Aaron Judge through Game 160 of 2022: 61 HR

Team Game 160: 10/4 (1)1-for-5

Judge’s quest to surpass Roger Maris remained stuck in neutral in the first game of today’s doubleheader. The understandable pressing is really showing, as in four of his five at-bats, he swung at the first pitch. That’s pretty unusual for a guy as patient as Judge, even with the caveat that they were all in the strike zone. So he only mustered a single on the day as each of Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, and Kyle Higashioka homered around him in the 5-4 win.

By the way, if it seems like a ton of Yankees players have been going deep as Judge has slumped since reaching No. 60, you’re not wrong.

Roger Maris through Game 160 of 1961: 60 HR

Team Game 160: 9/27 — did not play

After all the stress of pursuing Babe Ruth’s record throughout September, mostly alone with Mickey Mantle injured and out of the hunt, Roger Maris asked manager Ralph Houk for a day off. He had hit No. 60 the day before and was running out of time to hit one more homer and set a new standard for single-season excellence. The Yankees had a home game, too (though only 7,594 were in attendance). Nonetheless, Maris absolutely has to be respected for stepping up and acknowledging that he just needed a day. The man was exhausted, and Houk granted this request to his MVP.

The Yankees lost that day to Baltimore, 3-2, but it’s not like the 1961 Yankees were playing for anything at that point anyway. The American League pennant had been clinched for ages, and they were just tuning up for their World Series matchup against the Reds (who had secured the National League flag the day before).

Babe Ruth in 1927: 60 HR

Ruth’s remarkable 1927 ended after the Yankees’ 155th game of the regular season.

Barry Bonds through Game 160 of 2001: 72 HR

Team Game 160: 10/5 — 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB)

The scene was set in San Francisco for history to be made by Barry Bonds, and who better to play a supporting role than the longtime rival Dodgers? Due to the attacks of 9/11, this series had been rescheduled from mid-September. Bonds had hit No. 70 the day before in Houston, and he didn’t waste any time getting the record-breaker out of the way. On a 1-0 pitch from Chan Ho Park in the first, Bonds clobbered one to right-center field for No. 71. Just like that, he had passed Mark McGwire to become the single-season home run king and an on-field celebration ensued.

Remarkably, that was not all that Bonds in store for this special night. In his very next at-bat, he led off the third with No. 72 — again off Park.

The Giants needed Bonds’ offense on this night too, as fighting for their playoff lives, they had fallen behind by five runs early. Big hits from Jeff Kent, Rich Aurilia, and Bonds (of course) helped them fight back to make it a 10-10 slugfest in the sixth. But the Dodgers pulled ahead in the seventh, and the bullpen recovered to quiet the Giants’ offense for the final three innings. Thus, the night became a tad bittersweet for San Francisco fans, as the Dodgers got the last laugh by eliminating the Giants.

Mark McGwire through Game 160 of 1998: 65 HR

Team Game 160: 9/24 — 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K

McGwire’s Cardinals faced the Montreal Expos at home for the final four games of the season. It would turn into a terrific last hurrah for “Big Mac” in his unforgettable 1998, but the Expos managed to take care of him in the opener. Although Ray Lankford and Brian Jordan went yard, McGwire was limited to a single and a walk in the Cardinals’ 6-3 win.

Sammy Sosa through Game 160 of 1998: 66 HR

Team Game 160: 9/25 — 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K

Slammin’ Sammy Sosa pulled ahead of McGwire for the final time in 1998, as in the fourth inning on September 25th, he belted No. 66 off the late José Lima.

As we’ll detail tomorrow, the lead hardly long at all because McGwire can be mean like that, but for the moment, Sosa held the single-season home run record. Thanks to the Cubs’ Wild Card playoff game, he had a 163rd game, too. However, this would stand as Sosa’ final bomb of the season put him in the baseball history books. Obviously, your mileage may vary on what to think of his numbers now, but there’s no denying that his efforts alongside McGwire’s greatly rejuvenated interest in the sport and made him one of the most famous players of the past 50 years.