Judge in history: Two lists are not better than one

Aaron Judge has done it, wearing the same size cap he did when he signed his first pro contract, which is not something Barry Bonds can say.

That’s why Roger Maris Jr. has been on Twitter effusively praising the Yankees’ record-shattering slugger, who crashed his American League record 62nd home run Tuesday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, providing by far the most relevant moment of the Texas Rangers’ season.

The son, whose father slugged 61 in ’61 and had his hair falling out from the stress of chasing Babe Ruth’s big league record, is not shy about sharing his perspective that PED-fueled marks shouldn’t be in the same class as his dad’s feat.

“You are all class and someone who should be revered,” Maris Jr. Tweeted Tuesday night, congratulating Judge. “For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!”

But he’s not disdainful of Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998; 65 in 1999), or Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998; 64 in 2001; 63 in 1999). Just yesterday:

“Not saying Barry, Mark and Sammy were not exciting to watch. Not saying Barry didn’t hit 73 home runs … he did and we all watched. What I’m saying is what Aaron is doing tops them all. Maybe not for everyone but for everyone who loves CLEAN baseball.”

Maris Jr. delivered an additional attaboy:

“Barry Bonds is the best baseball player ever. What Bonds did in 2001 was the most dominant hitting performance ever. I know Bonds is the single-season home run champ (73) based on the CURRENT  record books. Home run records have been SEPARATED before … I like Judge better!!”

The MLB commissioner in 1961, Ford Frick, assailed by fans who felt Ruth’s 60 in 154 games in 1927 was on another level from Maris slugging 61 in 162 contests, didn’t invent the asterisk, but he abused it. In July, with Maris and teammate Mickey Mantle both on pace to overtake Ruth’s mark, Frick decided there would be two standards – Ruth’s mark for 154 games, and records in any categories for the brand-new, expanded 162-game slate.

Maris cracked his 61st in the 162nd game, Oct. 1, 1961. Thirty years later, an MLB committee reviewing historical accuracy discarded Frick’s decision and declared Maris had replaced Ruth as the game’s single-season HR king.

So now, in an ironic twist, Maris Jr. wants to create two lists. Wasn’t a good idea in 1961, isn’t a good idea now.

What the son doesn’t consider is it’s very likely that some, if not plenty of the pitchers trying to retire Bonds, McGwire and Sosa were themselves using performance enhancing drugs. Hello, Roger Clemens.

You don’t find Bonds, McGwire and Sosa as members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and you never will. Those guys, Clemons, and Pete Rose can visit Cooperstown, and they are acknowledged in the museum, but not in the Hall of Fame.

I am good with that. But give respect where it’s due. I recall the insight shared by Brian Lawrence, an All-Southland Conference pitcher at Northwestern State in 1997-98 who became the ace of the San Diego Padres staff not long afterward.

“If you ever see me throw a strike to Bonds, I’ve made a mistake,” said B-Law during a winter visit to Natchitoches when his No. 29 Demon jersey was retired. “He has total command of the zone. That’s his.  What I have to do is to fish around the dish, try to get him to chase something, make a mistake so he makes an out. What I can’t do is give him anything he might like.”

Now there’s another Demon pitcher in the MLB, Oakland A’s rookie Adam Oller. In his finest outing, on Aug. 27 in Oakland, Oller allowed only one hit in eight innings, and none to Judge. Oller walked him in the top of the first, but quickly picked him off to end the inning, and faced the minimum 24 hitters.

When Oller makes his way back to Natchitoches to visit, I bet he’ll say the same thing about Judge that Lawrence said about Bonds.

Contact Doug at sbjdoug@gmail.com