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Aaron Judge hits home run No. 62, surpassing Roger Maris' record

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Aaron Judge finally did it. With time running out of the baseball's regular season - it ends today, in fact - the New York Yankees slugger hit his 62nd homerun last night. Now, while it set a new single season record in the American League, many fans consider Judge's 62 the legit record for all of baseball. NPR's Tom Goldman reports.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run last week, tying Yankees legend Roger Maris for most in a season in the American League. It seemed there was ample time to get one more. But then he went homerless for five straight games, up through yesterday's first game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers. For Judge, the languid pace of baseball suddenly felt faster.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AARON JUDGE: I can't lie. The past couple of games I'd look up, and it's the seventh inning. And I'm like, dang, I only got one more at-bat. I better figure this out.

GOLDMAN: He did three pitches into the second game of the doubleheader heard here on the YES Network.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHAEL KAY: High fly ball, deep left.

(CHEERING)

KAY: There it goes, soaring into history. He's done it. He has done it - 62.

GOLDMAN: As the 6-foot-7 Judge loped around the bases, the ovation in Texas was a reminder of what this home run mark meant far beyond Yankee Stadium and what Judge said he'll remember.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JUDGE: The constant support. You know, they're booing pitchers for throwing balls. You know, I think I got a base hit the other night, and I was getting booed for a single. You know, little moments like that, you look back on. That's what it's about for me.

GOLDMAN: Judge says Barry Bonds' 73 home runs in 2001 are the real record. But others don't. Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire all had National League seasons where they hit more than 62, but all three were linked to banned drugs. Judge has played his entire career in an era of robust drug testing. He has in many minds made a messy game clean. And now, as Judge said last night, fans who've stood and cheered him can finally sit down and enjoy baseball as it roars into the postseason.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF WESS MEETS WEST'S "IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE, CHARLES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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