"The record is the record," Stanton said Wednesday, per the Sun Sentinel's Dave Hyde. "But, personally, I do [think 61 is the record]. ... You grow up watching [The] Sandlot. You grow up watching those films of Babe Ruth and [Mickey] Mantle and these guys and 61 always been that printed number as a kid."
For nearly 40 years, Roger Maris was the single-season home run king after hitting 61 homers in 1961. Then, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both surpassed the total in 1998, with McGwire's 70 home runs setting the new standard. Barry Bonds broke the record again in 2001 when he finished with 73 homers.
The specter of performance-enhancing drugs hovers over Bonds, McGwire and Sosa, leading some to posit Maris' mark should be considered the true home run record.
During his interview with Hyde, Stanton argued erasing records from the steroid era would be somewhat hypocritical, since many generations before have enjoyed an advantage of some sort. Ruth played only against white opponents, while Maris played during a time when amphetamine usage was embraced by many players.
Ultimately, the discussion may prove moot. The Associated Press noted Wednesday night Stanton is on pace to hit 61 homers after picking up 44 through 117 games.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Stanton has a .547 slugging percentage over his career in September and October, which is a noticeable drop from his career August slugging (.606). Should that trend continue this season, maintaining a 61-home run pace will be difficult.