When Mariano Rivera first announced that the 2013 MLB season would be his last, my first emotion was sadness as no longer will I be able to see the greatest closer of all time take the mound. Of course, a lot of bonehead baseball fans don’t like Rivera simply because of the NY on his hat, but any MLB fan worth his/her’s salts knows that “Mo” is a one of a kind ballplayer.
Believe it or not, Rivera grew up in poverty-stricken Panama where he didn’t get a leather glove until age 12. What did he and his friends play with in the meantime? A milk cartoon, of course. From baseball bats made out of tree limbs to multiple contracts with the New York Yankees worth upwards of $10 million a year, it’s safe to say that Rivera has made his homeland extremely proud.
However, the transition into the United States of America everyday life wasn’t an easy one for Rivera.
At age 19, the prospect’s first taste of the American life was his exposure to the well-documented hardships that go along with minor-league baseball. Despite not knowing a lick of the English language when he first came here in 1990, the Yankees gave Rivera the starting closer job in 1997 and No. 42 didn’t dare look back.
In fact, just two years into his starting role Rivera won the 1999 World Series MVP and became just the fourth relief pitcher to do so. New York would wind up winning three straight World Series title from 1998-2000, yet none of that would have happened without Rivera always slamming the door in the ninth. As the all-time leader in postseason ERA (0.70) and postseason saves (42), there will never be a closer in the history of the game with as much clout as Mariano.
May he forever be remember for: a nasty cutter, postseason dominance and countless big-game performances. Now we just wait for Rivera to get the nod from the Baseball Hall of Fame.