The Yankees' Aaron Judge, right, is congratulated by teammates, including...

The Yankees' Aaron Judge, right, is congratulated by teammates, including Harrison Bader, after his 61st home run of the season against the Blue Jays during the seventh inning of a game Wednesday in Toronto. Credit: AP/Nathan Denette

Patty Judge wore a small smile on her face as Tim Mayza fired a fastball in the direction of her son. Perhaps that's because she knew something no one else knew. 

Aaron Judge jumped all over the pitch, ripping a 117.4-mph line drive toward the leftfield stands. It bounced off the gloved hands of two fans sitting above the Blue Jays' bullpen at Rogers Centre in Toronto and fell into the pen for home run No. 61, tying the American League single-season record set 61 years ago by Roger Maris.

As Judge's laser headed toward the stands Wednesday night, Roger Maris Jr. — sitting next to Patty Judge just above the Yankees' dugout on the first-base side — rose to his feet with a stunned expression on his face, as if he had seen a ghost. His seatmate threw up her hands and her smile spread to her eyes, and if you think people can't smile with their eyes, well, you should have seen Patty Judge.

Both knew exactly where that ball was headed. Maris began to applaud, turned, looked  at Patty and smiled. Then he reached down and drew her into an embrace, patting Patty on the back.

She wore a beatific expression on her face and applauded as her son rounded the bases, and she and Maris shared another long embrace. He seemed emotional when their hug ended.

So why was Patty smiling a little even before the home run? Maybe it was because, as she told YES' Meredith Marakovits, she had called it before her son stepped to the plate. 

''Didn't stay in the air very long,'' Maris said, "because he actually hit a little laser out there.''  

As Judge approached the Yankees' dugout and hugged each of his teammates, Maris pointed at him and Patty blew a kiss. Judge pointed back at both with his helmet.

Out in leftfield, at least two fans weren't nearly as happy. Actually, four of them had at least an outside shot at catching the ball and becoming very rich. A man wearing a pinstriped Yankees jersey and a man in a black top were just a little too far away to get their gloves on it.  Two other fans — a man wearing a dark blue Bo Bichette top and a man wearing a light blue Blue Jays jersey — had a very real chance to catch the ball. But their gloves bumped a bit as they reached over the railing, and the ball fell into the Blue Jays' bullpen.


The ball wound up in the hands of Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann and eventually was turned over to Judge, but the story becomes a little unclear at this point.

''What I heard from our bullpen guys, [Blue Jays closer Jordan] Romano was the guy that kind of handed it over, grabbed it, handed it over, so getting that type of support in a class act move from him, who's one of the best in the game, definitely means a lot here,'' Judge said. "I've got to find him and thank him for that, that's for sure.'' 

NFL reporter Sara Walsh, who is married to Buschmann, had a different take. She tweeted, ''Bad news is I’m down here in Florida battling a hurricane, but the good news is I can announce my retirement . . . ''

Upon learning that her husband had turned the ball over to the Yankees — she said he gave it to Zack Britton — she tweeted, ''Oh cool. He just handed that back without checking to see if our house is still here? I’d next like to announce our divorce.''

The Blue Jays tweeted, ''The Judge and Maris family have been flying all over the country. They deserve to have that ball.'' And on the YES postgame show, former Yankees catcher John Flaherty spoke of the fraternity of baseball and said there is no way anyone in the major leagues would try to hold on to the ball instead of giving it to Judge. 

As for the at-bat that produced the home run, Judge  fouled off two 3-and-2 pitches and then took a little walk outside the batter's box to clear his head, which is unusual for him. He told Marakovits, "I fouled a pitch off and I actually liked the way the swing felt, so I was kind of like, hey — I tried to soak in the moment about what that swing felt like, what the moment felt like, so I could try to go out there and repeat it again, and it worked out.''

His thoughts as the line drive headed toward the stands? ''Well, I was hoping it got over the fence,'' he said. "I didn't know at first. I didn't want to be standing at home plate when it hits the wall, but it's an incredible honor. There's a lot of emotions. It took me a little longer than I wanted to.''

Judge had gone homerless in seven straight games and had been 5-for-21 with 13 walks since hitting No. 60 on Sept. 20. Maris was in attendance for that one, and this was his ninth day of watching No. 99 as he tried to tie and pass No. 9.

In the process, he has gotten to know Judge's mother pretty well. "You can just tell when you meet somebody like why the kid's the way he is,'' he said, "so kudos to the parents.''

Notes & quotes: Judge's two-run homer in the seventh broke a 3-3 tie in what became an 8-3 victory for the Yankees (96-59), who have won 17 of 22 . . . In the battle for the American League batting title, Judge is hitting .3134, just ahead of Minnesota's Luis Arraez (.3133) and Boston's Xander Bogaerts (.3087). He has 130 RBIs, 11 more than second-place Jose Ramirez of Cleveland and one fewer than MLB leader Pete Alonso of the Mets.

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