Michael Kay paid tribute to Phil Rizzuto on historic Aaron Judge 61 HR call

Adam Weinrib
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 28: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs the bases as he hits his 61st home run of the season in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Judge has now tied Roger Maris for the American League record. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 28: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs the bases as he hits his 61st home run of the season in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Judge has now tied Roger Maris for the American League record. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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From his childhood fandom to Fordham to the pros, New York Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay bleeds pinstripes. There was never any doubt that when the moment came to make an historic call on Aaron Judge’s Roger Maris-tying blast, he would tie in something historic to harken back to his own personal heroes.

One can’t usually prepare a home run call. No matter how prodigious the power hitter at the plate is, there’s still only a small percentage chance he goes yard. But Judge’s chase has been bubbling for weeks, if not months, giving Kay plenty of time to consider what he’d slip into the verbiage if he got to watch a milestone moment.

Despite a relative “dry spell” that drew scorn and impatience, Judge socked his 61st homer into the left-field bullpen in Toronto Wednesday night, just out of the outstretched hands of a man who’s about to be diagnosed with Long-Term Nightmare Disorder.

The ball didn’t linger in the air for long; it was a patented Judge Laser, one of many prototypical home run varieties he’s developed over the years. There’s the Oppo Scoop, the 480-Foot Monstrosity, the Launch Angle Cloud-Cracker, and the high-velocity liner with no time to breathe that America witnessed Wednesday.

That left Kay with very little time to get anything of substance out, but he still delivered on what almost certainly was his long-time vision, borrowing from Phil Rizzuto’s call of Maris’ 61st home run back in 1961. “This could be it!”

Yankees’ Michael Kay borrowed from Phil Rizzuto on Aaron Judge home run call

Now, there’s not a lot of room to breathe after the initial call; Kay had plenty of thoughts to get out, and a road crowd to drown out (unfortunately). But no matter what you think of the moment, the Rizzuto nod gets bonus points for creativity and reverence.

Judge will now move back to the Bronx after experiencing a round of pomp and circumstance abroad, answering questions about the Hall of Fame, hugging his mom and offering her the souvenir itself, and conversing with Roger Maris Jr. while deftly dodging questions about who the real home run king is.

He’s still got work to do. Nestling alongside Yankee royalty is nice, but there are still seven games left in the regular season — and three at home — to break this thing.

Wonder who Kay tips his cap to on No. 62. After all, in Yankee history, that mark is unprecedented.

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