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Aaron Judge, Albert Pujols not the only sluggers to break home run records in 2022

While Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols made home run history this season, six rookies also etched their names in the record books with historic home runs.

When the official record book for the 2022 baseball season is written, home runs are sure to be the major highlight.

The biggest, of course, was the record 62nd home run hit by Aaron Judge, breaking the American League single-season record of 61 set by another New York outfielder, Roger Maris, in 1961.

The ball from Judge’s record 62nd home run is about to hit the auction block at Goldin Co., where it is expected to challenge the ball from Mark McGwire’s 70th home run, which sold for $3.1 million.

The baseball that Aaron Judge hit for his record 62nd home run.

Aaron Judge's record 62nd home run ball. 

Also See: Aaron Judge's record home run ball set to hit market 

Then, at season's end, Albert Pujols passed the 700-homer milestone to move to fourth on the all-time home run list, behind only Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714). The great Cardinals' slugger enters retirement with 703 career home runs.

The ball that Pujols hit for his 700th career home run recently sold at Goldin for $360,000.

But the most surprising record was set by six rookies who hit home runs in their first big-league at-bats. Since the first newcomers homered in their first at-bats back in 1887, a total of 133 players have done it. Some years two players did it, some years none.

Until this past season the most rookie batters to turn the first-homer trick was five in 2006. There had been four each in 2004 and 2016. But this year a record six players stepped into a Major League batter’s box for the first time and hit a pitch out of the park.

Here's a look at the homering half-dozen:

• Joe Dunand, Marlins infielder and Alex Rodriguez’s nephew, on May 7.

Bowman 1st Joe Dunand rookie card.

Bowman 1st Joe Dunand rookie card.

Also See: Ty Cobb rookie bat sells for $1 million 

• Christopher Morel, Cubs utility player, on May 17.

Bowman 1st Christopher Morel rookie card.

Bowman 1st Christopher Morel rookie card.

Also See: 1920s Babe Ruth glove sells for $1.5 million 

• James Outman, Dodgers outfielder, on July 31.

James Outman Topps Now rookie card.

James Outman Topps Now rookie card.

• Brett Baty, Mets third baseman, on Aug. 17.

Bowman Prospects Brett Baty rookie card.

Bowman Prospects Brett Baty rookie card.

Also See: T206 complete set, 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth card up for bid at Memory Lane 

• Spencer Steer, Reds infielder, on Sept. 2.

Bowman 1st Spencer Steer rookie card.

Bowman 1st Spencer Steer rookie card.

• Josh Jung, Rangers third baseman, on Sept. 9.

2019 Bowman Draft Josh Jung rookie card.

2019 Bowman Draft Josh Jung rookie card.

Since this has been such a special year for Judge, fans and collectors should be reminded that the young Yankee slugger was one of the newcomers who homered in his first career plate appearance. Judge did it on Aug. 13 2016, a bases-empty, second-inning shot in an 8-4 New York win.

But that's not all.

Yankees rookie Tyler Austin, batting just before Judge in the batting order that day, also homered in his first career at-bat. It was the first and only time that two rookies have done that in the long history of Major League Baseball.

Judge bashed his way into this season's record books in another way, too. When he homered to win Game 5 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Guardians, his two-out, solo shot was his fourth in a winner-take-all postseason game, breaking a tie with five other players.

The first two players to hit homers in their first at-bats as rookies were George Tebeau and Mike Griffin, and they did it on the same day on April 16, 1887. They share recognition as being first because the exact time when each homered has never been determined.

The list of 133 first at-bat homer hitters is an unusual one, a collection of players that includes some who were unlikely to have earned a place in that special category.

Only two of the 133 are Hall of Famers — Earl Averill and Hoyt Wilhelm. Averill was an authentic slugger, hitting 238 homers in 13 seasons with the Indians and Tigers. His first was predictable, too; he had hit 80 homers during four seasons in the minors.

But Wilhelm, though he was a great pitcher, is way out of place on any list of home run hitters. The one he hit in his first at-bat with the Giants in 1952 was his only one in 21 years in the majors. That was predictable, too. He had hit only three balls out of the park in eight seasons in the minors.

How did the 10 greatest home run hitters in baseball history do in their first career at-bats? Not so hot! Not an Aaron Judge opening act among them.

Here's how they began as big-league batters (career homers in parenthesis):

• Barry Bonds (762) popped up to shortstop.

• Hank Aaron (755) hit into a double play.

• Babe Ruth (714) struck out against lefty Willie Mitchell.

• Albert Pujols (703) grounded to third.

• Alex Rodriguez (696) grounded to third.

• Willie Mays (660) struck out against Bubba Church.

• Ken Griffey, Jr. (630) doubled off Dave Stewart,

• Jim Thome (612) struck out against David West.

• Sammy Sosa (609) singled to left field.

• Frank Robinson (586) doubled off Wilmer Mizell.

And here's how 10 other great sluggers started out:

• Ted Williams (521) struck out against Red Ruffing.

• Lou Gehrig (493) struck out as a pinch batter.

• Joe DiMaggio (361) reached on a fielder's choice.

• Mickey Mantle (536) grounded out to second.

• Roger Maris (275) struck out against Billy Pierce.

• Willie McCovey (521) singled to right.

• Frank Thomas (521) flied out to center.

• Reggie Jackson (563) flied out to center.

• Stan Musial (475) popped out to third.

• David Ortiz (541) flied out to left.

The home runs eventually started to come for those great hitters — a total of 11,534 of them — thrilling fans, scaring pitchers and setting records as they flew out of big-league ballparks.  

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