The home run is a true American icon. Perhaps more than any sports achievement, the home run is bigger than the game. In baseball, it is the ultimate offensive achievement. Not even the most imaginative defensive shift can stop a ball, hit long enough and far enough, from leaving the yard. But the home run has transcended the game. In American English, a home run is defined as an impressive success. A winning idea is a “home run” and something well done “knocks it out of the park!” Of course, it is understood that ladies love the long ball.
So it is no surprise that there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned home-run milestone to capture the imagination of sports fans and laypeople alike. Incredibly, we were treated to two memorable home-run achievements to conclude the 2022 baseball seasons. Aaron Judge in Yankee pinstripes reached the all-time single-season American League home-run record. Albert Pujols, again wearing two birds on a bat, reached 700 home runs in a career.
“Will he do it?” “Can he keep up this pace?” “Will it be tonight?” In the end, Judge and Pujols answered all the questions with a resounding “yes,” leaving fans to debate where their achievements rank against their handful of peers. But, truly those debates are splitting the finest of hairs. More than 60 home runs in a season is undoubtedly one of the greatest power-hitting years ever. More than 700 home runs in a career is the rarest of rarefied air.
We may never see another batter hit 60 home runs in a single season or reach 700 home runs in a career. We will almost certainly not see both achievements in such close proximity. Celebrating sustained excellence at the plate for a season AND for a career? Now THAT is a real home run.