Maris Jr. expects Aaron Judge to be ‘realistic’ despite demanding Yankees fans
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The 2022 season was a historic season for Aaron Judge. The Yankees slugger scripted an American League record with 62 home runs surpassing Roger Maris, who made 61 home runs in 1961. Aaron Judge also went on to become the AL’s Most Valuable Player. After the Yankees rewarded him with a massive 9-year, $360 million contract and made him the team’s captain, fans are expecting Aaron Judge to produce more in 2023.
However, Roger Maris Jr. believes that Aaron Judge probably won’t hit 62 home runs again and this is something absolutely normal.
The New York Post’s Dan Martin quoted him saying:
“Dad realized he was never gonna do what he did in 1961 again. That year was an anomaly. I think Aaron realizes that, too. It’s not that he’s not capable of doing it, but you have to understand it was an amazing year and you can’t go to the park expecting to hit home runs …  took a lot out of him. Not just the season, but when it ended, he went through what Judge has gone through. There’s a lot of demands on your time, and then you turn around and have to get started again.’’
The prediction by Roger Maris Jr. is in line with what his father experienced. In 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run on the last day of the regular season. Like Aaron Judge, he had to limp to the record haul in the last few games. Maris created an AL record that year and also won the AL MVP award for the second year in a row. The Yankees also doubled his salary from $32,000 to $70,000. Aaron Judge too have a windfall year after his record year.
The next season, in 1962, Maris set more realistic goals. He went on to hit 33 home runs and drive in 100 runs for the Yankees in 1962 when they won their second straight World Series. And Maris’s son says that Aaron Judge should think the same way.
“Dad realized he was never gonna do what he did in 1961 again,’’ Roger Maris Jr. quoted saying. “That year was an anomaly. I think Aaron Judge realizes that, too. It’s not that he’s not capable of doing it, but you have to understand it was an amazing year and you can’t go to the park expecting to hit home runs.”
After trying to break the record and being in the spotlight during the offseason, it’s even harder to do it again.
“ took a lot out of him,’’ the son told about his big-hitter father. “Not just the season, but when it ended, he went through what Judge has gone through. There’s a lot of demands on your time, and then you turn around and have to get started again.’’
Maris Jr. believes that Aaron Judge’s home run total won’t matter as much if the Yankees are able to end their world championship drought.
“If Aaron Judge didn’t want the pressure, he wouldn’t have come back to New York,’’ Maris said. “But even with him being named captain, he knows the pressure of New York is not going to get worse than last year. If he does what he’s been doing, plays winning baseball and they win, it doesn’t matter if he hits 20 home runs, no one is going to care. It’s only when you don’t win. He needs to focus on winning a championship.”
Aaron Judge may not face hostile fans
Maris had to deal with the fans being mad at him, which Aaron Judge may have to deal with. But Maris Jr. thinks that the Yankees captain may be lucky to avoid that.
“Aaron is revered in New York,’’ Maris Jr. said. “Dad wasn’t revered for doing what he did. His problem was people didn’t want to see him get the record. He came back in ’62 and had to deal with that and the press. It stayed with him the rest of his time in New York.”
“The fans are very different with my dad and Aaron, but even Aaron got booed a little bit in the playoffs.”
Maris Jr. said that his father “loved playing in New York, the team, winning, the pressure, and the spotlight,” but that the media attention “got to him.”
“Where Judge and dad are similar is in how they approach the game,’’ Maris said. “Dad always wanted to be the best teammate he could be to help the team win. He felt his athleticism and his focus would take care of his performance and everything else would come. It was more about making winning plays. He knew if he did well, the team probably would, too, and that takes the pressure off you. For Judge, it’s the same thing.”
Maris was an All-Star for the last time in 1962 before a back injury kept him out of action for a long time during the second half of 1963. He came back with a good year in 1964, but injuries hurt him in 1965 and 1966. Before the 1967 season, he was traded to St. Louis, where he hit just 35 home runs in his last four years.
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