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, for Game 132:
Aaron Judge through Game 132 of 2022: 51 HR
Team Game 132: 9/3 — 0-for-2, 1 BB, 2 K, reached on catcher’s interference
The Rays followed a similar formula last night that others (including them) followed for most of August, challenging the rest of the Yankees’ lineup to beat them instead. They failed, and Judge whiffed in his only two official at-bats.
Roger Maris through Game 132 of 1961: 51 HR
Team Game 132: 8/30 — 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 1 K
Roger Maris was in the middle of an unusual five-game homerless drought on August 30th at old Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota, as future Yankees announcer Jim Kaat held him to a single. On the unusual occasions when one M&M Boy fell short though, the other often picked him up, and sure enough, Mickey Mantle belted his 47th homer of 1961 as part of a 4-0 shutout.
Babe Ruth through Game 132 of 1927: 46 HR
Team Game 132: 9/6 (1) — 2-for-6, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 K
Oh hell yeah, here we go. One of my favorite performances in MLB history is Babe Ruth’s September 1927 because breaking his old record of 59 homers with 60 was such an absurd long shot. He was at 44 with just 24 games to go, and the legend ended up hitting 17 homers in a single month.
This doubleheader opener at Fenway Park was when the Bambino began to not only kick into high gear, but also to distance himself from breakout star Lou Gehrig, who had been neck-and-neck with Ruth for much of ‘27. Both men entered the day with 44 bombs, and while Gehrig oh-so-briefly pulled ahead with No. 45 in the fifth, Ruth belted a pair in back-to-back innings to reach 46.
Pour one out for Red Sox starter Tony Welzer, who in those days, just had to wear it during a 14-2 drubbing. His final line: 7 innings, 17 hits, 13 runs (all earned), 4 walks, and a trio of homers allowed to all-time legends. Welzer had also coughed up No. 43 less than a week prior, and he never pitched in the majors again after this month. Perhaps he did not have as many fond memories of September ‘27 as Ruth’s supporters.
Barry Bonds through Game 132 of 2001: 56 HR
Team Game 132: 8/28 — 0-for-2, 2 BB
This was the start of a key series for both Bonds and the Giants as a whole, as they were trying* to chase down the Diamondbacks for NL West crown and were 2.5 games behind entering play on August 28th. But as so many players knew in those days, it was such a bad matchup to have to deal with Randy Johnson, who to that point had actually never allowed Bonds to take him deep. The man who would win his third consecutive Cy Young Award that year did his job, pitching around Bonds twice to snuff out rallies by retiring lesser hitters, and also inducing a groundout and popup. Johnson’s eight innings of one-run ball led to a 4-1 Arizona victory.
*Note: I am now coming to the realization that this series will turn the 2001 Giants into my bitter enemy for being unsuccessful in their pursuit of the eventual champion D-backs. Jerks!
Mark McGwire through Game 132 of 1998: 53 HR
Team Game 132: 8/25 — 0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 1 ROE
The 1998 Marlins tore down their World Series-winning team from ‘97 and were one of the worst defending champions in MLB history, finishing ‘98 with 108 losses. But hey, baseball works in mysterious ways, and sometimes, an abysmal team can shut down a slugger in the middle of a history. Mark McGwire went hitless with just a bases-loaded walk to show for his effort on August 25th, though a long fly in the first fell a bit shy of No. 54.
Sammy Sosa through Game 132 of 1998: 51 HR
Team Game 132: 8/25 — 3-for-5, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K
How about that? This was the rare day in the summer of ‘98 that neither Big Mac or Slammin’ Sammy went deep. Sure, he had a good night in Cincinnati with a trio of hits, but none went yard and the Cubs’ pitching staff let the Wild Card contenders down. The Reds outlasted the Cubs, 10-9, thanks to a young third baseman named Aaron Boone going 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high four RBI at the bottom of Jack McKeon’s lineup.