One has to assume the Red Sox will wait until the Yankees last trip to Fenway before presenting Mariano Rivera with some sort of official retirement gift, but yesterday the crowd at Fenway Park gave it’s own sort of gift with a standing ovation as Rivera entered the game.
“I always love to pitch here, always,” Rivera said. “Yankee Stadium is home, but when I come here, this is a great game. We play big, big games here…. I have tremendous respect for the organization, for the fans here and the field. Great games. When we come here, it’s a battle and beautiful games.”
Before yesterday’s game, Rivera met with some Red Sox fans as part of his city-by-city effort to say thank you to people behind the scenes.
“It was wonderful,” Rivera said. “There was a kid, Fernando. He has cancer and is going through therapy and all that stuff. He shared his story. He wanted to play soccer, baseball, but he couldn’t. He’s not giving up. He’s going and doing different things. That’s what it is all about. It was wonderful, beautiful. We had a great time. It was a great day, yes.”
Rivera said he didn’t really notice the ovation as he entered the game — “I don’t pay attention,” he said. “I have to make sure that I did what I had to do” — but his teammates certainly noticed.
“It just shows the respect that not just baseball fans, not just Boston fans, but people in general have for Mo,” Chris Stewart said. “They know what he’s accomplished throughout his career. He’s been the rival for quite a while, but for them to go out of their way and salute him and tip their caps and say, ‘We respect what you’ve done,’ is huge.”
Associated Press photos