I have to admit, just thinking about Mariano Rivera’s retirement brings me to tears. Not only is he the greatest closer of all time, he’s one of the last remnants of the Yankee team who I religiously followed growing up. The beloved Core Four dwindles to one as Mo along with Andy Pettitte (who announced his retirement last week) join Jorge Posada in retirement, leaving Jeter to carry on the legacy for a few more years.
While Pettitte will be missed dearly, his retirement is largely overshadowed by the Exit of Sandman (Mariano’s nickname due to his entry song), who’s final season has been celebrated since Opening Day by all of baseball. The tributes have been unbelievable, with each team presenting Mo with heartwarming farewell gifts as he closed his final game in each stadium. He has gotten everything from rocking chairs made of broken bats, to a Gold Record of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” , numerous donations to his foundation and even customized cowboy boots. The Red Sox gave him the 42 placard that graced the Fenway Park scoreboard each time he pitched, along with the visitor’s bullpen mound, an old stadium seat (#42) and a performance by the Boston Cello Quartet of “Enter Sandman”. Click here to see all of his retirement gifts.
But of course, the Yankees would not stand to be out done, honoring Mo in a 55 minute ceremony prior to Sunday’s game. It was a perfect good bye to this beloved Yankee. It started with a touching tribute to Jackie Robinson in Monument Park where the Yanks then added 42 to their litany of numbers never to be worn again. Ex-teammates came to celebrate and honor the greatest closer of all time. Metallica performed “Enter Sandman” in the outfield warning track as Mariano walked the walk he’s made so many times to the pitchers mound. The whole thing was beautifully done, bringing back so many memories as Mariano’s Yankee chapter closes.
It will certainly be emotional the last time Mo makes his trip from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound to close his final game. One thing is for certain, while 42 will never grace a baseball field again, his impact on the game of baseball will live forever. Generation after generation will talk about Mariano Rivera as the greatest closer of all time. I feel lucky to have been able to watch him pitch his entire career. So hats off to Mo, Sandman, the great Mariano Rivera.