A New York Yankee fan favorite who is driven by his Christian faith tied a historic American League record Wednesday night.
Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run in the Yankees' 8-3 win at Toronto, tying the single-season American League home run set by Roger Maris in 1961 and sparking a debate about whether Judge's name should sit at the top of the record books for all of baseball.
Maris' record was famously broken during Major League Baseball's so-called "steroid era" – a period when players allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs to surpass 61 home runs six times. All of those players, though, played in the National League.
Judge, who plays in the American League, is the first player in 21 years to reach 61 home runs. Maris also played for the Yankees.
61 years since 61.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 29, 2022
Aaron Judge has written his name alongside Roger Maris in baseball's record books. pic.twitter.com/1V4Gums34C
"It's an incredible honor," Judge said after the game. "... Words can't describe it."
Judge pointed to the sky as he rounded the bases, much like he does nearly every time he hits a home run.
Asked during his rookie season what he is thinking about when he points upward, he answered, "the Lord."
"He put me in this position, blessed me with so many opportunities in my life," he said during his rookie season, according to Sports Spectrum. "I just try to take a quick moment just to kind of thank Him. … It's a blessing every time I step on that field and get that opportunity."
Judge, 30, references his faith on his social media accounts. His Twitter bio reads, "Christian. Faith, Family, then Baseball." His bio also includes a verse, 2 Corinthians 5:7: "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
Asked before the season about his baseball future, he told the New York Post, "It's all in God's hands."
Roger Maris Jr., the son of the late Yankee legend, told media members Wednesday that Major League Baseball should make Judge the sole holder of the single-season record, assuming he hits No. 62.
"He's clean, he's a Yankee, he plays the game the right way," Maris Jr. said. "I think he gives people a chance to look at somebody who should be revered for hitting 62 home runs and not just as a guy who did it in the American League. He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ. 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."
The Yankees have seven games left during the regular season.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Cole Burston/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.