Aaron Judge is making history.
The Yankees slugger blasted his 50th home run of the season Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels as his chase for Roger Maris’ single-season franchise record of 61 remains within sight.
Judge drove a Ryan Tepera slider over the left-center field wall, achieving the second 50-home run season of his career. He is the 10th Major League Baseball player to accomplish that feat.
During the Yankees’ run toward an AL East title, Judge has also waged a personal battle.
In his free-agent walk year, Judge has taken dead aim at Maris’ franchise record, set in 1961.
That was the year Maris and Mickey Mantle threatened Babe Ruth’s historic mark of 60 home runs in a season, with Maris – under abject pressure – finally emerging with the record homer in Game 162.
AARON JUDGE HOME RUN WATCH:Tracking the Yankees slugger in 2022
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Consistently, Judge has underplayed his pursuit of what remains the AL single-season record for homers, choosing instead to focus on the team’s broader goals.
“It’s just another number,” Judge told reporters Friday at Oakland, after clubbing No. 49. “I’m happy we got another win.”
But his teammates are rooting him on.
“I get to have the best seat every night for the Aaron Judge Show,” said Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole. “Which is one of a kind right now.”
And this season by Judge is even more unique, considering the extra added pressure from the first game of the year.
Just hours before the 2022 season opener, Judge turned down a $213.5 million extension through the 2029 season, placing a major wager on his talent.
Judge’s judgment is certainly going to be rewarded this winter, whether he re-signs with the Yankees or finds something more suitable on the open market.
Still, Judge has repeatedly stated that he wants to be “a Yankee for life’’ and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner recognizes the slugger’s on-field and clubhouse value, as well as his status with the fanbase.
“He means a lot to the organization. Nobody’s going to deny that,’’ Steinbrenner said earlier this year, just prior to Judge’s All-Star selection.
Judge arrived at Dodger Stadium for the All-Star Game leading the majors with 33 home runs.