Yankees ticket prices are spiking as fans clamor to catch a glimpse of Aaron Judge’s next record-breaking home run. Left field seats have become particularly hot commodities for those looking to literally catch history. And, behind the scenes, a number of MLB broadcasters—including the newcomers at Apple—are waiting to see if their crew is the one to capture the moment.
While Judge’s last 10 home runs, including No. 60 Tuesday, have come on the Yankees’ YES Network, New York’s upcoming four-game series with the Red Sox will air across five networks. Fox has the game Thursday, followed by Apple TV+ Friday. YES and MLB Network will air Saturday’s action, with ESPN showing the series finale Sunday evening.
According to a Sportico analysis, Judge has a roughly 6% chance of homering twice to set the Yankees record on Thursday, with a 12-16% chance he hits No. 62 in each of the following four games, assuming he continues his torrid pace of homering about once in every 10 plate appearances.
When Roger Maris set the mark in 1961, the shot aired locally on WPIX-TV. Red Barber was on the call, with a direct, “There it is! 61.” The last time an MLB player hit 61 home runs—Sammy Sosa in 2001—Fox Sports Net aired the blast. By then, the mark had lost some of its luster, having been reached six times between 1998 and 2001 (including by Barry Bonds earlier in ‘01).
Having chronicled Judge’s journey since his days in the minors, YES president for production and programming John Filippelli is among the broadcasters hoping to document history. He’s also well aware of how in-the-moment production decisions can shape a play’s legacy.
“I always say, How you chronicle a game is almost as important as the game itself,” Filippelli said in an interview, “because it’s how the game will be remembered.” Thanks in part to Judge, YES has seen its best season ratings-wise since 2011.
ESPN aired Judge’s Wednesday at-bats alongside its Leagues Cup coverage (it also streamed the game on ESPN+), though it won’t be able to do the same when national peers take over. Tonight, Fox will cut into its regional Braves-Phillies broadcast to show Judge in a similar two-box format. MLB Network has look-ins planned when possible as well.
If Judge breaks the record on Apple’s platform Friday, he’d do so thanks to a bit of luck—or foresight. Apple planned on picking up Friday’s Red Sox contest for its final night of games before the season started. Additionally, in May it circled a Dodgers-Cardinals tilt for the Friday nightcap, which now features Albert Pujols chasing home run No. 700 (he’s currently at 698).
Apple is continuing to offer the games outside of its TV+ paywall, as it has done all of this year. The company has not released viewership numbers in the first of what’s reported to be a seven-year agreement worth more than $80 million annually. That might all prove worth it if, 50 years from now, an Apple logo still sits on top of an historic home run.
Then again, there’s close to a 50% chance Judge doesn’t homer twice this weekend. In which case the chase, and all the hopes surrounding it, would carry on.