Maris Jr.: Home run feats of Bonds, McGwire illegitimate; Judge will be HR king
TORONTO (AP) — Roger Maris Jr. considers the home run feats of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to be illegitimate and says Aaron Judge should be recognized as the holder of the big league season standard if the New York Yankees slugger hits No. 62.
“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Maris said after Judge hit his 61st on Wednesday night to match Roger Maris’ record-setting total with the Yankees in 1961. “I mean, that’s really who he is if he hits 62, and I think that’s what needs to happen. I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”
Keep scrolling for a look back at iconic moments in sports in the 1960s
Roger Maris, who died in 1985 at age 51, broke the record of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927. Maris’ mark stood until McGwire hit 70 for St. Louis in 1998, and that was topped by Barry Bonds’ 73 for San Francisco in 2001.
McGwire also hit 65 in 1999, and Sammy Sosa had seasons of 66, 64 and 63 for the Chicago Cubs from 1998-2001.
McGwire admitted using steroids, while Bonds and Sosa maintained they didn’t knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball began drug-testing with penalties in 2004.
The younger Maris and some of his relatives were in St. Louis when McGwire hit his 62nd in 1998.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Maris said at the time.
Asked Wednesday whether he considers McGwire and Bonds home run totals to be illegitimate, Maris answered yes.
“I do,” he said. “I think most people do.”
Maris sees Judge as a player worthy of praise.
“I can’t think of anybody better that baseball can look up to than Aaron Judge,” he said.
Maris has attended every game since Judge hit No. 60 on Sept. 20. He plans to be in the Bronx on Friday when the Yankees open a three-game series against Baltimore and doesn’t expect to wait long for another historic homer.
“You can tell he’s back and he’s ready to go now,” Maris said. “I think it will happen in New York. That’s where you want it to happen, that’s where I want it to happen. I think the city of New York deserves it. The fans deserve it. I think it would be great for baseball if it happens in New York.”
Maris had a message for Judge in their postgame meeting.
“Get to New York and hit 62 and knock the top off Yankee Stadium,” Maris recalled telling him. “It’s going to be fun.”