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. Now, onto Game 142:
Aaron Judge through Game 142 of 2022: 57 HR
Team Game 142: 9/13 — 3-for-4, 2 HR, 1 BB, 2 RBI
No. 99 took a big step in his chase for the record on Tuesday night, as he’d been in a bit of a home run lull — by his standards, anyway. Sure, he was 8-for-18 in the 5 games since his previous bomb, but the people want to see dingers! Judge delivered and then some at Fenway Park, belting his 56th and 57th home runs (off Nick Pivetta and Garrett Whitlock) as part of a heart-pounding 7-6 win in extras.
Judge is now fully back ahead of Roger Maris’ pace and just a shot shy of the one set by Sammy Sosa in his historic 1998.
Roger Maris through Game 142 of 1961: 55 HR
Team Game 142: 9/8 — 0-for-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 1 GIDP
Maris handed over the dingering responsibilities to fellow M&M Boy Mickey Mantle on September 8th at Yankee Stadium, as the “Commerce Comet” gained one on his teammate with his 52nd homer of the season. Despite hitting just 57 long balls across an acclaimed 9-year career, shortstop Tony Kubek actually went yard as well. Maris himself went hitless in the 9-1 Yankees win.
Babe Ruth through Game 142 of 1927: 52 HR
Team Game 142: 9/15 — 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 K
Maris might have lost pace on Mantle, but the Babe was also stagnant in Game 142 — against the very same Cleveland franchise 34 years prior (also at the original Yankee Stadium). In this edition, however, Cleveland emerged victorious. Ruth’s double in the eighth allowed Lou Gehrig to single him in to cut the lead to 3-2, but George “The Bull” Uhle held on to give the 1927 Yankees a rare loss.
Barry Bonds through Game 142 of 2001: 60 HR
Team Game 142: 9/7 — 3-for-3, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 3 BB
2001 Barry Bonds got six whole plate appearances at pre-humidor Coors Field and couldn’t homer in 12 innings! Terrible. What a nightmare. True, he reached in every single time up and hit a crucial game-tying RBI double in the eighth ... but still. We wanted dingers! Alas, the Rockies pitched around Bonds in extra in particular, and they ended up walking it off, so I suppose it worked out for them.
(Aside: This is entirely unrelated to Bonds, but September 7th was apparently the same day that then-Marlin A.J. Burnett broke the window of a truck with a pitch in warmups. I’ve seen that blooper 10,000 times but never knew exactly when it happened!)
Mark McGwire through Game 142 of 1998: 60 HR
Team Game 142: 9/5 — 1-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K
It had been 37 years since an MLB player had last reached 60 bombs in a season, but Mark McGwire ended the drought with his first of the year against the Reds. He tied Ruth and got it out of the way in the first inning against southpaw Dennys Reyes, who carved out a commendable 15-year career after moving to the bullpen. Hopefully, all of the 47,994 at Busch Stadium had settled into their seats by the time the game began; otherwise, they might’ve missed the fireworks.
Sammy Sosa through Game 142 of 1998: 58 HR
Team Game 142: 9/5 — 2-for-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
Sosa wasn’t at 60 yet, but he at least matched McGwire’s homer on September 5th with one of his own to draw one closer to that storied plateau. He went deep for the third game in a row, crushing an opposite-field blast at old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh off Sean Lawrence, a one-year pitcher who grew up just outside Chicago in Oak Park. The solo shot gave the Cubs some insurance in an 8-4 win.