Today you told us that this season would be your last. I’d like to personally thank you for making the success of the past 17 years possible, and for doing it with so much class.
You began as a setup man to John Wetteland and it was there that we first caught a glimpse of your brilliance. We were left in awe by the ferocity with which each throw crossed home plate, and we watched amazed by the fact that something so overwhelming could be delivered by someone so slight.
The grace of your delivery on the mound was only equaled by the quiet professionalism you projected off the field. All done in front of baseball’s largest crowd and for the sport’s most storied franchise.
Thank you, Mariano, for adding to the list of my favorite team’s all-time greats. In the pantheon of legends that includes names like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Ford yours will now be added. Whenever the debate as to who is the greatest Yankee pitcher arises, the name Mariano Rivera must be considered.
It cannot be debated that you gave us all that you had. It isn’t just evidenced by the fact that you are the all-time saves leader, or that you broke enough bats to supply Habitat for Humanity with lumber to cover the next decade of building homes. Instead, it is what you did when the pressure was most intense. In the post-season you were as close to perfection as any pitcher could ever hope to be. Over 96 games and 141 innings pitched during baseball’s “second season”, you had an unbelievable 0.70 ERA with 42 saves.
No one will ever touch those numbers Mo’. No one.
You have taught us so much along the way. In an era where self-promotion by athletes has become the norm, you quietly went about your business in preparation and performance. You showed us that talk is cheap. That in spite of the evolution to professional sports figures who believe they can convince you of their greatness through proclamation, old-fashioned hard work and dedication is what will set you apart from the rest. One need only to look at how you have come back from your devastating injury last May to witness that.
I am 49 years old and have followed the Yankees as long as I can remember. Until you came along, Ron Guidry was the best pitcher I had ever seen. No more.
There will be a day in the not too distant future where you will stand at home plate, and like past greats that you will soon call your peers, be asked to speak to us – the Yankees fans. You will be showered with gifts, and your teammates and family will stand alongside you as you have one more day in the sun. Only there aren’t enough accolades or offerings that we can bestow upon you that will equal what you have given us.
Five years from now, God willing, I want to be in Cooperstown, NY to witness your entry to the Hall of Fame. I will stand there with pride knowing that a player whose career I have followed from Day One will have a plaque hanging on the wall of the sport’s greatest players.
You need not thank us the fans (though I know you will) in the speeches you will give. We are the ones indebted to you Mariano Rivera. There will never be another like you, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want there to be. I want to live the rest of my life knowing that for the better part of 20 years I watched, and cheered on the greatest relief pitcher – quite possibly the greatest pitcher – who ever lived. It will be a cherished jewel in the memories of my life.
Thank you Mariano, I’ll never hear “Enter Sandman” quite the same again.
--Steve Skinner, Loyal Yankee fan
--Steve Skinner, BYB Guest Writer
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