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Baseball’s True Home Run Champion by Mark Hollis

Last month New York Yankee slugger Aaron Judge tied fellow Yankee slugger, Roger Maris with 61 home runs for the single season HR list. With only a few games left, there’s a good chance that by the time this article goes to print, he will have hit his 62nd homer. The single season homer mark is one of the most heralded achievements in not just baseball, but all of sports. The long-standing record of 60 was set in place by Babe Ruth during his heyday with the Yankees. Of course, Ruth’s pundits will make the case that the Babe set the record during a 154-game season versus the 162 that MLB teams play today. So, the claim of the greatest slugger should stay with Ruth. Maris hit 61 breaking Babe’s record in 1961. But let’s be clear with the fact that to not mention Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa would not be due diligence to the argument.

The aforementioned players: Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa respectively broke the single season homer record, but without controversy. Barry on paper is the single season record holder with 73 homers, Mark McGwire is second with 70, and Sam Sosa is third with 66. But why aren’t they mentioned in the same breath with Ruth and Maris? Because these top three men were suspected of using performance enhancing drugs identified as PEP. Juicing as it is sometimes referred to had long been suspected in the case of the top three. There were noticeable physical changes in Barry, Mark and Sammy with added muscle mass and a seemingly higher reflex response to hitting the ball. Baseball aficionados are determined to affix an asterisk to their names due to their suspicions. It’s obvious that Major League Baseball is unwilling to settle the controversy. Of course, Roger Maris’s son, Roger Maris Junior, stated that if Aaron Judge hits 62 he should be the champion.

I for one will continue to cheer for Aaron Judge. It’s rare for any player to attain the level of 61 home runs in a single season. But I will not discount the efforts of Bonds being the homer champion with 73. Until Major League Baseball addresses the issue and adds the asterisk to the top three, I will give Bonds the nod. Sometimes it’s better to stay in the now and move on and appreciate the game for what is today.