Somewhere George Steinbrenner had to be smiling.
It was the end of an era in the Bronx today, as today was the last regular season home game for the Yankees, and also probably the last time the home crowd would ever get to see Mariano Rivera on the mound.
The day was dubbed simply ‘Mariano Rivera Day’, but not so simple to understand is the very impact Rivera has had on the storied franchise. From his humble beginnings to being regarded as the best closer in sports, the Yankees and MLB alike have been treated to the gift of seeing him play.
The Day took months of meticulous planning and overseeing to ensure Rivera was sent out the right way. The event was made all the more emotional when Rivera’s teammates from the Yankees’ glory years ran out to the field to honor him. Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Jorge Posada and of course Derek Jeter, all were welcomed sights to see.
One of the biggest highlights on the day wasn’t even for Rivera, it was for the man whose number Mariano Rivera wears, Jackie Robinson. The Yankees paid homage to the late great Jackie Robinson by erecting his plaque in Monument Park, with Rachel Robinson doing the honors of unveiling the ’42′ plaque.
The endless gifts the have been bestowed upon Mariano continued to come, including a rocking chair made out of bats and a $100,000.00 check made out to to the Mariano Rivera Foundation. And what better way to serenade the day than with Metallica themselves performing ‘Enter Sandman’ the song which plays out every home game as Rivera takes to the mound to save games.
Rivera had his number 42 retired–while he’s technically still wearing it no less, and watched with pride as the Yankees put him in the annals of history.
Rivera played for the Yankees 19 years, and did so with nothing but class and dignity. He broke the mold in how athletes should act like and he set the standard for consistency. He earned this day.
“To my teammates, past and present, I appreciate you guys. The lord has blessed me with a big family, and all of these men have been part of this family.”
Images courtesy of USA Today