I must admit, my eyes were not on the field as the crowd chanted Andy Pettitte’s name last night. I was focused strictly on the Yankees dugout, watching Pettitte and wondering if he would add even more emotional weight to a game already overflowing with it. It wasn’t until Pettitte was urged onto the field that I realized the Rays were still in their own dugout, yielding the floor.
“I think that was great, too,” Joe Girardi said. “Andy deserves it. You’re talking about two of the greatest Yankees that have ever put the uniform on going out in the same year, and I was glad to see that. I give Tampa a lot of credit, the class they showed, because they wouldn’t take the field until Andy went out, and I applaud Joe and all his coaches and his players for that.”
Marc Topkin wrote this morning about the emotion in the Rays dugout last night. Even the visiting team was caught up in the moment, showing remarkable respect for Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.
“I stopped thinking about the actual game I was pitching in and just the moment I was in,” Alex Cobb said. “I never felt those emotions in a baseball stadium. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of to this day. I went out there after he pitched and all I was thinking about was that I was on the same mound that Mariano just took after all that happened. I probably should have been thinking about other things than that.”
Even my father, who’s a lifelong Cardinals fan and knows few details of Rivera’s career, said he got emotional watching highlights of last night’s game. It was hard — impossible? — to not be caught up in that moment. But Pettitte, especially, came front-and-center. Sure, it was Rivera’s farewell, but Pettitte was on that mound and Yankee Stadium made sure to give him a proper sendoff as well.
“I felt like I had already done my stuff or whatever,” Pettitte said. “The guys on our bench started saying, ‘You’ve got to go out,’ and the Rays aren’t going to go out. I looked over at their bench and they were all saying, get out there or we’re not going out. It was just great.
“I don’t need anything else. I just feel so fortunate to have been a part of this weekend and the last few days here. It’s been incredible.”
Associated Press photo