NEW YORK -- The son of New York Yankees legend Roger Maris believes Major League Baseball should rewrite its record books to recognize Aaron Judge as the new single-season home run king if he goes on to eclipse his father's benchmark of 61 homers.
Judge blasted his 61st home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, equalling the revered American League record set by Maris in the 1961 season, which stood as the outright Major League Baseball record until it fell during the sport's steroid era of the late 1990s.
Only three men – Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – have ever hit more home runs in a season, and all three have been tainted by allegations of steroid use.
Roger Maris Jr., who was in the crowd in Toronto, to watch Judge equal his father's record of 61 on Wednesday, says the Yankees slugger deserves to be viewed as the "legitimate" home run king if he adds to his tally.
"I think that's what needs to happen," Maris Jr. said. "I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.
"I think it means a lot - not just for me - it means a lot for a lot of people that (Judge) is clean, he's a Yankee, he plays the game the right way, and I think it 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."
Bonds, who holds the official home run record of 73 set in the 2001 season, was heavily implicated in the notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) drug scandal in the early 2000s but has always denied knowingly taking steroids.
McGwire, who eclipsed Maris's benchmark in the 1998 season when he finished the campaign with 70 homers, admitted in 2010 he had used steroids throughout his career, including during his record-breaking 1998 season.
- 'Their game was a scam' -
Sosa, who posted single season home run totals of 66, 63 and 64 for the Chicago Cubs between 1998 and 2001, has always denied drug use. However a 2009 New York Times report said Sosa was on a Major League Baseball list of players who had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
The calls for Judge to be recognized as the true home run king have rumbled throughout the season, with several commentators arguing that it is time for baseball to update its record books.
"Bonds, McGwire and Sosa transformed their bodies into home run machines. Their numbers in those years are a mirage. Their game was a scam," baseball writer Jon Heyman commented in the New York Post last month. "It's all in the open now, even if baseball's powers that be don't want to completely acknowledge it, and correct what's obvious to all."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone also believes that Judge's achievements this season rank above the benchmarks of the steroid era.
"I think it puts it a notch above," Boone said of Judge's achievement last week.
"It's right there with some of the best, very short list of all-time seasons. I go back to the context of the season, and the more I look at it and dive into it, it's got to be an all-time great season."
Judge, however, has distanced himself from suggestions that his homer tally deserves to be recognized as the "true" record given the asterisk against Bonds's record of 73.
"73 is the record in my book," Judge said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.
"No matter what people want to say about that era of baseball, for me, they went out there and hit 73 homers and that to me is what the record is," added Judge, who grew up in northern California as a fan of Bonds and the Giants.
Maris Jr. meanwhile hopes Judge can blast his 62nd home run of the season in New York on Friday, as the Yankees begin a three-game homestand against the Baltimore Orioles.
"I think it will happen in New York, that's where you want it to happen, that's where I want it to happen," Maris Jr said.
"I think the city deserves it, the fans deserve it. I said to Aaron -- 'Get to New York and hit 62 and knock the top off Yankee Stadium.'"
© Agence France-Presse