Yankees closer Mariano Rivera’s hall of fame career has finally come to an end. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 marked the last time the number 42 would ever step onto an MLB field. Sunday, Sept. 29 was be the last time he would suit up in a Yankees’ uniform. Rivera has retired after 19 seasons in Major League Baseball, all being with the New York Yankees.
Rivera finished his career as the leader in multiple statistical categories. He is first all time in saves (652), games finished (952) and postseason ERA (0.70). Rivera has been selected to play in 13 all-star games, as well as winning an A.L.C.S. MVP Award (2003), an All-Star Game MVP Award (2013) and a World Series MVP Award (1999). He recorded the final out in four of the five World Series championships that he won. He is also the last player to wear #42 in professional baseball.
This past baseball season has been a farewell tour for Rivera, as opposing teams presented him with various gifts when the Yankees visited their stadium for the last time. He received a rocking chair, made up of broken baseball bats by the Minnesota Twins, a pair of cowboy boots and a hat from the Texas Rangers; the list goes on and on. Rivera also took the extra time to meet with season ticket holders and stadium workers, truly getting to know them and their stories. Being the son of a fisherman, Rivera learned early in his life to be grateful for what you have, and to give back to the community. He has a charity titled, The Mariano Rivera Foundation, which provides scholarships to young adults going to college, as well as donates money to various churches and youth centers.
Widely regarded by his peers as the greatest closer ever, Rivera’s historic career finally came to a close against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, Sept. 29. He was brought in during the eighth inning with one out. He finished the inning and then recorded two outs in the ninth. In an unseen and classy move, Yankees manager sent shortstop Derek Jeter, who was on the disabled list, and pitcher Andy Pettitte out of the dugout to take Rivera out of his final game. All three players had come up to the big leagues around the middle of the 90’s, and had been a big part of five world championship teams.
Jeter and Pettitte, not so coincidentally, were also two of Rivera’s closest friends. As they walked to the mound, it became clear that they were going to take Rivera out of the game, a move that had to be approved by the umpires, since it had never been done before. Upon reaching the mound, the crowd began to cheer loudly, understanding that this would be the last time they would see their beloved closer in action.
Rivera, who was known throughout his career as someone who remained un-phased no matter what the situation, began to sob into Pettitte’s chest as he hugged him. He then proceeded to do the same while hugging Jeter, causing the crowd to increase the volume of their cheering. Finally, it came time for the Yankees’ legend to leave the mound and make one final walk into the dugout. The New York crowd, known for being loyal to their favorite players, gave Rivera a sendoff he will never forget.
Rivera will most surely be a first ballot Hall of Famer. His contributions not just on, but off the field will surely be remembered by all who have watched him grow during his 19 years in the MLB.