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The Aaron Judge Home Run Tracker: Game 161

On the penultimate day of the season, Aaron Judge sets the franchise and American League single-season record for home runs.

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 161:

Aaron Judge through Game 161 of 2022: 61 HR

Team Game 161: 10/4— 1-for-2, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K

At long last, the chase is over! In the 161st game of the 2022 season, Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run. He left it nearly to the last, going homerless in five games after matching Roger Maris at 61. But finally, Judge saw a middle-middle slider from Jesús Tinoco, and did what we were all waiting for, sailing it over the left-field wall:

While the dinger looked much like a no-doubter off the bat, Judge actually didn’t get as much of it as he usually does, with ball leaving bat at 100 mph. No matter, they all look like 450-foot Judgian blasts in the box score.

Aaron Boone left Judge in for one more at-bat, with Judge striking out before being removed in the second inning. He received a standing ovation on the road in Texas, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if that’s the last we see of him this regular season.

If this is it, what a joy it’s been to follow Judge’s exploits all season. He was so consistent in his chase, rarely wavering from a 60-plus homer pace. He really only faltered over the last few days, with Judge appearing to press just a little bit in an attempt to get across the finish line. At last, he finally has, putting the grace note on what’s been a legendary campaign.

Roger Maris through Game 161 of 1961: 60 HR

Team Game 161: 9/29 — 0-for-2, 1 R, 2 BB

Just as Judge sat in a tie entering game 161, so did Roger Maris in 1961. Maris remained at 60 dingers today too, after a game in which the Red Sox showed him respect and walked Maris twice. Maris’ second walk was to lead off the ninth, and he came around to score two batters later for a walk-off 2-1 win over Boston. Not the homer he was looking for, but at least a fun finish for Maris and the Bombers.

Babe Ruth in 1927: 60 HR

Ruth’s remarkable 1927 ended after the Yankees155th game of the regular season.

Barry Bonds through Game 161 of 2001: 72 HR

Team Game 161: 10/6 — 1-for-1, 1 1B

The day before, Bonds had broke the single-season record for home runs, smashing both number 71 and 72 in a loss to the Dodgers. As an encore, he... took a break! Ironically, the game in which Bonds set his record was also the game in which the Giants were eliminated from postseason contention. So, with nothing left to play for, with Bonds’ record in the bag, and with the slugger having started each of the team’s previous 24 games, he took to the bench.

Even so, the Giants had Bonds pinch-hit in the ninth inning of a game they trailed 6-0, and Bonds promptly singled and was removed for a pinch-runner. The record would be 72 for a day.

Mark McGwire through Game 161 of 1998: 66 HR

Team Game 161: 9/25 — 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 1B, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K

McGwire has led the 1998 home run chase for most of this series, usually keeping his rival Sosa at arm’s length. But through 160 games, Sosa had reached 66 bombs, so McGwire set out to remedy the situation:

Righty Shayne Bennett grooved a belt-high fastball, and McGwire absolutely demolished it to left for his 66th homer of the year. Once again, we were tied.

Sammy Sosa through Game 161 of 1998: 66 HR

Team Game 161: 9/26 — 2-for-4, 2 1B, 1 R, 1 K

A tough one for Sosa, as he did well to get on base twice, but since the Cards were a game ahead of their schedule compared to the Cubs, Sosa actually knew here in Game 161 that he’d fallen behind. He did at least score an absolutely crucial run in the context of Chicago’s season, singling and coming around in the eighth to make the score 3-1. The Cubs would go on to win 3-2 to stay tied at the top in the NL Wild Card race.