NEW YORK (AP) — There’s a new name in the Yankees’ record book after Aaron Judge eclipsed a franchise icon.
The 6-foot-7 outfielder hit his 30th home run of the season Friday night, breaking Joe DiMaggio’s mark for most by a New York rookie.
Judge, who leads the majors in homers, reached the plateau in his 82nd game of the season. DiMaggio hit 29 home runs over 138 games in 1936, his first year in pinstripes, and went on to a Hall of Fame career.
“That’s a pretty special name he passed. It’s really incredible what he’s done in the first half,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after his team’s 9-4 loss to Milwaukee. “You talk about the home runs, but the runs, the walks, the average he’s hit for, the defense that he’s played, it’s been a pretty special first half.”
Judge also joined Oakland slugger Mark McGwire as the only big league rookies to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break. McGwire had 33 at the break in 1987.
“I wish all 30 were game-winners, but it really doesn’t mean nothing,” Judge said.
Leading off the fifth inning, Judge connected against rookie left-hander Josh Hader and sent a 432-foot drive to center field, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead and surpassing Joe D.
The ball struck the dark restaurant windows above Monument Park and caromed onto protective netting.
“It’s quite an honor,” Judge said. “It’s been a fun first half so far, just to be in this position with my teammates around me, always putting me in the right spot and just helping me do my best and helping me succeed.”
Judge was all smiles in the dugout as he high-fived fellow Yankees. After the game, he was asked when he will have a chance to sit down and reflect on his astounding first half.
“After my career is over, to be honest,” he said. “I’ve got it in my notes: I look at it every day — .179, what I hit last year. It’s just a reminder that this game will humble you quick, so I just keep taking it one day at a time. I don’t do too much reflecting right now.”
Milwaukee rallied to win behind two homers and seven RBIs from another rookie, Jesus Aguilar, who hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the seventh inning. He matched a franchise record for RBIs in one game and became the first Brewers rookie to have seven.
New York has dropped three straight and 17 of 23.
“It’s tough answering questions like this after a loss,” Judge said. “It just makes it a little tough.”