Mariano Rivera takes final step off the mound
By Sam Draut
They don’t make players like Mariano Rivera. Sure, hundreds of kids grown up in the impoverished
country of Panama, crafting a baseball glove out of a milk carton or a cardboard box.
Handfuls of them grow and develop, drawing the interest of MLB scouts, but there will only be one who can capture the stage of the baseball world.
Arguably, Rivera is the most dominant athlete at his particular position in the history of sports.
The 652 career saves and an additional 42 in the postseason paired with 5 World Series rings speak to his record as a winner.
Finishing games for nearly two decades for the baseball’s most iconic franchise can leave a lofty legacy.
But, as much as Rivera’s reputation was shaped by his cut-fastball, his performances aside from the rubber are why 50,000 fans in Yankee Stadium openly wept as he exited for his final time.
Even during his emotional farewell to the Yankee organization, he remained classy and elegant, the
defining traits of his career. A simple doff of his cap to the Rays dugout and a curtain call to a city
frivolously searching for an appropriate farewell.
Throughout his career, his calming demeanor relaxed teammates while exasperating all hope for
In Rivera’s 19 year career, he’s taken the ball with a lead 914 regular season games. The Yankees
record for those games is 868-48. Additionally, he received the ball with a lead 68 times in the
postseason, the Yankees record was a staggering 64-4.
His graceful dominance left him as one of the most respected players in his generation. First, he
competed against hitters in the height of the steroid era and shined bright, winning four of his five
World Championships from 1996-2000.
And when fans questioned the integrity of Major League Baseball, Rivera remained at the forefront, as a constant reminder that character and morality remained in the game. As baseball attempted to recover from the steroid era, Rivera continued to sparkle as he entered into the twilight of his career.
Rivera saved his age twice after turning 40, at age 41 and 43 he recorded 44 saves, the only reliever in his 40s to do so.
The other number in the forties that defines Rivera is his jersey No. 42. In 1997, Major League Baseball universally retired the No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, permitting only players wearing the number to continue. Fittingly, Rivera is the last active player to wear the number as it is grandfathered out of baseball.
Rivera’s farewell tour throughout ballparks in America spoke volumes to his appeal as an individual. It’s catastrophically rare that a New York Yankee receives a standing ovation at Fenway Park. Despite the countless games Rivera has closed out against the rival, the Red Sox applauded the man leaving Fenway for his final time.
Appropriately, Rivera’s career ended at Yankee Stadium ended with Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte by his side. The two relieved him of duty, but as he tearfully walked off of mound for good, I saw more than the greatest closer of all time leaving baseball.
Rivera was an unblemished jewel of the modern era of baseball. He represented the game at its purest form as a competitor and winner. And even when fame and accolades rolled in for Rivera, he stayed humble and focused on winning.
So, if a time capsule of Major League Baseball was sent ahead fifty years from now, Rivera would be sent because he epitomized the brand of baseball that we all value.
Past, present, or future, there will never be another athlete like him, because they don’t make players like Mariano Rivera.