Fans thronged the stands outside the Rogers Center pitch for a chance to catch Aaron Judge’s historic home run

Gregory Strong, Canadian Press

Published Monday, September 26, 2022 9:46 PM EDT

Last Updated Monday, 26 September 2022 22:43 EDT

TORONTO – Justin Morgan and his father arrived early at Rogers Center on Monday to stake out a spot in the standing room section of the level 200 court, hoping to capture a slice of baseball history.

Dressed in a white Blue Jays jersey and with leather gloves ready to go, all Morgan needed was Yankees slugger Aaron Judge to team up and hit his 61st home run of the season.

“We watched all weekend hoping maybe he would hit another one so we could have a record breaker here,” Morgan said. “But it’s just as good to have one that can tie up Roger Maris.”

Good thing Morgan was planning to return Tuesday night. The judges held one in three at-bats as the Yankees dropped a 3-2 decision to Toronto in the opener of a three-game series.

Hakim has been on the cusp of tying the American League’s one-season home run record for a week. He was aiming to draw even with Maris, who hit 61 homers in 1961.

“Every time the Jays race into September it’s a great atmosphere,” said Pete Devcich, a longtime Yankees fan from Toronto. “When you add in the pursuit of Aaron Judge 61-62, it just adds a little extra flair. It’s great to be here.”

The judge hit one into the right field to open the game and come on to score on the sacrificial fly. He walked in the third inning and attacked in the sixth inning and again in the eighth.

With two runners in in the 10th inning, Team Mayza purposely brought Hakim into a chorus of jeers from fans who wanted to see Hakim take a few more pieces on the plate.

A hot topic of discussion among fans practicing batting was what they would do if they caught the historic home run. Trading with teams/players in exchange for memorabilia is common practice but with some collectors willing to pay a premium, it may be tempting to sell them.

Joseph Moltschanow of Mississauga, Ontario, said if he wanted to catch him, a signed baseball and meet-and-greet session with the baseball star would suffice.

“This is not for me to keep,” he said from the level 200 sixth row. “It was something he deserved. He worked hard for it.”

Morgan, of Burlington, Ontario, will need some time before making a decision.

“We will delay 24 hours and let the dust settle,” he said. “Take the best offer that comes along and then my dad and I will split it 50-50.”

A specially marked baseball was used while the Judge was in the court on Monday night. The ball is identifiable and can be easily authenticated.

If the ball is caught by a spectator, Yankees security officers will contact stadium security to discuss the possibility and interest in having the fan return it, a team spokesman said.

Judges also compete for the Triple Crown, a rare feat in which a player leads the league in homer, RBI, and batting average.

“The baseball fan in me has a lot of respect for Aaron Judge and the year he was put together and how he is as a person too,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said before the game. “It would be nice to hold it for a few days. I hope we win by 12 if he scores a home run. ”

Several sports networks have cut-ins to their programs in recent days whenever Judge is away. In addition to coverage on Sportsnet and the YES Network, the game is available on the MLB Network and free on MLB.TV.

The announced attendance was 34,307 for the series opener, well short of sales. However, the press box and photographer’s room was filled with many members of the American media who had come north for the series.

“I think he’s a great face of the game, representative of the game, he does a lot of the things you want your best players to do,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So I think it’s good. I think it’s more attention to our sport, more attention to our sport and it’s documenting something that almost never happens.

“I think it’s important for me when I say this now, to try to appreciate that. Truly appreciating what a magical season he has had to date.”

Barry Bonds set an all-time one-season record with 73 home runs in 2001.

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 26, 2022.

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