By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Barry Bonds would welcome Yankees slugger Aaron Judge breaking his single season record of 73 home runs set with the San Francisco Giants in 2001, he has told the Sportico website.
Judge hit his Major League-leading 60th home run on Tuesday, tying the mark set by Yankees great Babe Ruth, and is now one big swing shy of Roger Maris’s 61-year-old American League record.
With just 13 games remaining in the season, it is unlikely Judge will challenge Bonds’ record this year but the 30-year-old could very well make a run at it in the years to come.
“Go for it,” Bonds, who also holds the career home run record with 762, said in an interview with the sports business website published on Friday.
“The way he swings he might as well hit one a day and get past me. I don’t care. Why not?”
A massive bidding war for Judge’s services is expected at the end of the season when he becomes a free agent after he declined a seven-year, $213.5 million extension from the Yankees prior to the start of this season.
Home run king Bonds said he hoped the Stockton, California native Judge, who grew up rooting for Bonds and the Giants, will be persuaded to swap his Bronx pin stripes for San Francisco’s black and orange.
“We in the Bay Area – he’s a Bay Area boy – we hope they don’t sign him, and we can get him,” Bonds said.
“I would. He’s that good.”
Bonds played during what is sometimes referred to as the steroid era of baseball and while he never failed a drug test, in January he missed out on gaining entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 10th and final year on the ballot.
He would prefer to keep the spotlight on Judge, who has said he believes Bonds’ record of 73 home runs in a season is legitimate.
“Because I have all the records, I don’t want to be a headline,” Bonds said.
“Every era’s different. I played baseball hard. I’ll be gone one day, and I won’t have to listen to it anymore. I have three grandchildren. I’m 58 years old. Really?”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris)