Aaron Judge got history out of the way quickly on Tuesday when he blasted his 62nd home run in his first at-bat of the game, offering plenty of time to enjoy the moment and reflect by the time he was asked about it after the game.
But it still hadn’t truly hit Judge just yet that he had become the Yankees and American League home run king.
“It’s a special achievement,” Judge said. “Any time you’re mentioned in the same sentence or category as Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, these Yankee greats, it’s a little overwhelming. It’s something that I will definitely cherish and try to enjoy this moment. I still think it hasn’t really sunk in.”
It also took a few moments to be sure that his deep drive to left field would clear the wall, but it was another one of his patented moonblasts that put him alone atop the franchise record books.
“I haven’t played too many games here…you never know, but I had a good feeling off the bat,” Judge said. “I just didn’t know where it was gonna land or what it was gonna hit. Just a good sense of relief when it landed in that fan’s glove and put us ahead 1-0.”
As he rounded the bases, his teammates poured out of the dugout and jumped for joy while the Texas crowd went wild. But what was Judge thinking during his 62nd trip around the diamond?
“Just thinking of my wife and my family, my teammates, the fans, all that was kind of running through my head because of the support I’ve gotten through this process and this whole year,” Judge said. “Then looking forward to getting back in the dugout and getting back on defense and watching Gerrit Cole break the record.”
Judge consistently pointed back to Cole setting the Yankee single-season strikeout record, or the fact that his home run put the team out in front, moreso than the history of it all. But 62 carries a magnitude that even a self-deflecting personality like Judge will take time to appreciate, especially because of the celebratory reaction from players around the league after history was made.
“I think that’s one of the biggest honors, is any compliment from your peers, the guys that are out there grinding just like you are,” Judge said. “They know how hard this game is and how hard it is to go out there and post every single night. For them to tweet things out and say things like that, there’s no higher honor. That’s what it’s all about for me, my teammates and my peers. The respect I have for other players around the league, to get that same respect back, it gives me chills.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1