It was setting up to be an emotional night for the New York Yankees — and the rest of the country — at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. It was Mariano Rivera‘s final home game as a Yankee and fourth-to-last game ever as a professional baseball player. The best closer of all time was ready to enter the game in the eighth inning for the last time in front of the home crowd. The Yankees were trailing 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays, but everyone knew Mo would pitch.
Entering the game for the last time, he received a standing ovation. Taking the mound in the eighth inning, he retired four batters that stretched into the ninth inning and then was taken off the mound by Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. Yes, the best shortstop in the game and the Yankee pitcher who overcame the steroid drama and finished his career off right, also set to retire.
It’s different to see a manager not come out to take the pitcher out of the game, but this time was special. After long hugs from both Pettitte and Jeter on the mound and tears in his eyes, Mo exited the mound.
This has to be one of the most emotional moments in sports history, as Joe Girardi had it all set up to make this somewhat of a ceremony. It was one of the coolest moves by a manager ever as he allowed two of the most iconic Yankees to take Rivera off the mound for the final time.
What was lost in all of this was how well the Rays took it all as they could care less how long it took for Mo, they just wanted him to be honored in the way he deserved to be.
Tear-jerker for sure.