Friday, April 19, 2024

Mariano Rivera Makes a Classy Exit from a Magnificent Career with the Yankees


Mariano Rivera, the most successful closer in baseball history, made a classy exit tonight from a magnificent career. After 1,173 strike outs and 19 seasons with the New York Yankees, Rivera came in to pitch in the 8th inning and for a little of the 9th this evening. It was one of those historic moments at Yankee Stadium, made even more emotional because the great pitcher Andy Pettite also made his final appearance in Yankee Stadium tonight and got a long ovation.

Rivera’s final moments really showed what a real leader and inspiration he has been. The first great moment was just before the game ended, when Derek Jeter and Pettite came out to the mound to walk him back to the dugout. Rivera, 43,  fell apart, and for a few minutes it was tears and hugs all around as the entire crowd of more than 50,000 fans clapped, cheered, and sang Rivera’s name. Imagine that this man has saved the Yankees time and time again from everything short of a dinosaur attack or a tsunami. They relied on him when they had no business to, and he always unfailingly came though for them. You’d be crying, too.

The second great moment was after the game, when Rivera went out to the mound by himself. It was almost slow motion. He sort of kicked around the mound for the last time. Then he picked up some dirt, scooped it up in his hands, his souvenir from the place where he had spent so much of his adult life. It was absolutely poetic in the way only baseball can be more than any other sport. Was he thinking of the rain, the heat, the cold, the tight score, his batters who weren’t helping him? He waved once more and the crowd just went wild. And an era ends. It’s the last time we’ll ever hear “Enter Sandman” played at Yankee Stadium.

Thank you, Mariano. Thank you so much.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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