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Roger Maris Jr.: Aaron Judge Will Be 'Actual Home Run Champion' When He Hits No. 62

Maris Jr. doesn't consider the seasons of Barry Bonds, Mar McGwire and Sammy Sosa legitimate because they were linked to steroids.
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TORONTO — Roger Maris Jr. knew Aaron Judge had hit his 61st home run of the season as soon as the slugger made contact in the seventh inning on Wednesday night at the Rogers Centre.

In that moment, Roger Maris' son looked on from right behind New York's dugout as Judge rounded the bases for the 61st time in 2022, tying the record his father set 61 years ago.

Before Judge did it on Wednesday, nobody had accomplished such a feat in the American League since Maris did it in 1961. In the National League, three different sluggers—each connected to performance enhancing drugs during the steroid era—eclipsed the 61-homer plateau: Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, wgo holds the single-season record with the 73 homers in 2001 with the San Francisco Giants.

If you ask Maris Jr., however, nobody in either league has legitimately reached 61 home runs since his pops did it. That's why Judge should be considered baseball's all-time home run king once he passes Maris, he said.

"[Judge] should be revered and celebrated just like the single-season home run champ, not just like he's the American League home run champ," Maris Jr. explained after New York's 8-3 win over the Blue Jays, already looking ahead to Judge's 62nd. "He should be celebrated and I can't think of anybody better that baseball can look up to than Aaron Judge, who is the face of baseball."

Maris Jr. was asked specifically if he thinks the historic seasons of Bonds, McGwire and Sosa are illegitimate because of steroids and he didn't hesitate. 

"I do. I think most people do," he said. 

It was clear on Wednesday night just how much it meant to Maris Jr. that Judge was the one to tie his dad's record. He had already embraced this entire process, assuring to reporters that Judge is due to smash his 62nd homer before the end of the week during New York's final regular season series at Yankee Stadium.

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"He's clean, he's a Yankee, he plays the game the right way," Maris Jr. added. "He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champion. 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."

Judge has seven games left in the regular season to tack on one more big fly and break a tie with Maris. It took him eight games to go from 60 homers to 61, one game shy of his longest drought without leaving the yard all season long. 

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