Yanks slugger honored to join McGwire, who had 49 in '87; Sanchez swats 2, makes history
By Sam Butler
ARLINGTON -- Aaron Judge had been a jaw-dropping phenomenon for the greater part of this season, the sensation everyone needed to stop what they were doing to watch whenever his 6-foot-7 frame stepped up to the plate. On Sunday, he became part of history.
Judge hit a pair of home runs -- his 40th and 41st of the year -- in the Yankees' 16-7 win over the Rangers, and he etched his name into the record books, becoming the second rookie in Major League history to hit 40 homers along with Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in 1987.
"Especially when he was in that home-run hunt with Sammy Sosa, chasing him, it was fun to watch, especially as a kid," Judge said of joining McGwire. "To be in that same category, it's pretty special."
Crossing the 40-homer threshold also meant he took his place in Yankees lore amongst names every kid who grew up watching baseball has memorized.
Judge became the fifth Yankee in franchise history to hit 40 home runs at or before his age-25 season, joining Mickey Mantle (1956), Joe DiMaggio (1937), Lou Gehrig (1927) and Babe Ruth (1920) as the only players in pinstripes to accomplish the feat.
"It's surreal," Judge said. "Never, as a kid, did I ever think I'd be in the same sentence as those guys, so it's quite an honor. It's pretty humbling."
To top it all off, Judge set another record. He drew his 107th walk of the year to lead off the second, setting the Major League record for walks by a rookie in a season.
"That just shows you that he's more than a home-run hitter," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I look at the way he plays defense extremely well, he runs the bases extremely well. He's a complete player."
He wasn't the only player to make history, though. Gary Sanchez swatted a pair of homers as well, one of which went for 461 feet. He and Judge became just the fifth pair of teammates to each hit a home run of at least 460 feet in the same game since Statcast™ debuted.
Sanchez's homers also linked him with McGwire, becoming the second player to hit 50 homers in his first 162 games. However, Sanchez is the first in the history of baseball to go deep 50 times while also recording 125 RBIs through his first 162 games.
"It's incredible what these kids have done, and there's still three weeks to go," Girardi said. "They'll continue to add to those numbers. But these kids are talented."
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.