There was a lot going on during yesterday’s Mariano Rivera retirement ceremony. A lot of people involved, a lot of presentations, a lot of gifts and a lot of words.
“What surprised me the most?” Rivera said. “Oh my God. To see the band there, Metallica, out there playing the song. The whole thing was special. I wasn’t expecting something like that. Seeing my ex-teammates, the whole stadium packed with a lot of flags and fellow Panamanians from Panama. It was a lot of emotions. It was more than what I was thinking, because I didn’t know anything. They didn’t want to tell me anything. It was great.”
Here are the basics of what happened during those 50 minutes when the Yankees celebrated their iconic closer.
• Custom-designed Waterford Crystal replica of Rivera’s glove from 2013, including a No. 42 on the back, Rivera’s signature and the proverb “Phil 4:13” on the thumb. There is a crystal baseball in front of the mitt with the Final Season logo. The inscription on the basereads: “The Greatest Closer in Baseball History” / Franchise leader in games pitched / Baseball’s all-time saves leader / Five-time World Series champion / Last active player to wear “42” / In recognition of your career in pinstripes / The New York Yankees / September 22, 2003
• Framed replica of Rivera’s number and retired-number placard from Monument Park
• Baseball-bat rocking chair.
• Check for $100,000 to the Mariano Rivera Foundation.
• Customized touring guitar speaker cabinet with the No. 42 and the nickname Sandman presented by and signed by Metallica.
• Watercolor artwork by a San Francisco artist depicting Rivera’s appearance at AT&T Park on June 22, 2007, presented by members of the Giants’ coaching staff: Joe Lefebvre, Hensley Muelens, Roberto Kelly and Dave Righetti.
• Kirk Hammett model guitar with the No. 42 and an image of the Golden Gate Bridge along with an autograph from Giants Hall of Famer Willie Mays. The guitar was also presented by the Giants (Hammett is Metallica’s lead guitarist and he’s from San Francisco).
• For the beginning of the ceremony, unveiling additions to Monument Park, Rivera was joined by his family, the Steinbrenner family, and the wife and daughter of Jackie Robinson, Yankees COO Lonn Trost and team president Randy Levine.
• Introduced guests for the on-field ceremony were: Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, David Cone, John Wetteland, Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Rachel Robinson, Sharon Robinson, Clara Rivera, Mariano Rivera Jr., Jafet Rivera and Jazeil Rivera.
• Robinson Cano escorted the Robinson’s onto the field. Derek Jeter escorted the Rivera family. Metallica played Enter Sandman live as Rivera entered from the bullpen. Joe Girardi, Jeter, Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Hank Steinbrenner, Hal Steinbrenner, Christina Steinbrenner, Felix Lopez, Trost and Levine each participated in the gift presentations.
• Various video messages played throughout the game including, among many others: Don Mattingly, Robin Ventura, Buck Showalter, Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella, Gene Monahan, Josh Hamilton, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, David Wright, Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Tom Brady, Justin Tuck, Victor Cruz, Mark Sanchez and Paul Simon.
• Rivera was joined by the Robinson family in unveiling a bronze Jackie Robinson plaque in Monument Park, the first Monument Park plaque for a player from another team. It includes the quote: “A life is not important except in teh impact it has on other lives.”
• Rivera’s number was officially retired with a Yankees-style No. 42 on the wall in Monument Park and an informational placard. It’s in the same location where the Dodger-blue No. 42 used to be located to recognize Robinson’s universally retired number.
• The text of Rivera’s retired number placard: “‘Mo’ is considered the greatest closer in baseball history. He spent his entire career in pinstripes from 1995 – 2013 and became the franchise leader in games pitched. Thriving under pressure, he amassed the most saves in postseason history. A 13-time all-star, he retired as baseball’s all-time saves leader.
• A proclamation from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read to fans: “Mariano Rivera will enter the Hall of Fame as the greatest relief pitcher in Major League Baseball history. Over the course of 19 spectacular seasons — all with the game’s most storied franchise, the new York Yankees — Mo has saved more than 650 games and counting, an all-time record. Now, therefore, I, Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby proclaim Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 in the City of New York as ‘Mariano Rivera Day.'”
At the end of the ceremony, Rivera was handed the microphone for a speech of his own. This is what he said:
“Thank you very much. I would like to start thanking – I love you too, guys – I would like to start thanking my good Lord because he has made this possible. Without him, I couldn’t be here. Thank you, Lord for this.
“I also would like to thank my beautiful wife, Clara, for the love and the patience – a lot of patience – and the kindness and support you have given me for all these years. I do appreciate that. Thank you. For the boys, Mariano, Jafet, Jaziel, thank you for your support, men. I appreciate that. It means a lot when you have your family around you and they’ve been a blessing to me.
“To my dad, my mother, thank you for having me. I guarantee it was a great day – or a great night, I don’t know what it was – but it was great because you made a good one. Gracias. Thank you.
“To my teammates, past and present, I appreciate you guys. The Lord has blessed me with a big family and all these men have been part of my family. I thank you – every one if you guys individually – for what you guys have meant to me. I love you guys. You are special to me and my family.
“To my beautiful country, Panama. Thank you for your support. (Further thanked Panama in Spanish)
“To you fans, thank you for 19 years of support. It has been a great run, guys. You guys have been amazing. You always have been here for me and for the organization. I will never forget that. You guys will have part of my heart here in New York. You have taken me in like one of you guys and I do appreciate that.
“I want to thank the San Francisco Giants organization for being here and allowing me to compete against you guys. Thank you very much.
“I wanted to give thanks to the good Lord for this tremendous organization. The New York Yankees have been my family, have been special to me. This man that I wish he was here, Mr. George Steinbrenner, for giving me the opportunity to play for his team. I love him so much and I do miss him.
“Rachel (Robinson), I know that he’s not here and I would have loved to have met him, Mr. Jackie Robinson. It’s a great pleasure and an honor for me to be the last Major League Baseball player to ever wear No. 42. Even though I didn’t meet him, he has been a hero and inspiration for me. I thank Mr. Jackie Robinson for that.
“To America, that has given me the pleasure since I left my country 23 years ago. That’s why America is a great country.
“The New York Yankees are a great organization and you fans are the best. So let’s play ball now. Guys, we’ve got to go. I love you guys. Thank you very much. Thank you.”
Associated Press photos