In an ideal world, the last goodbye from fans to Mariano Rivera would be when he traveled with his teammates through the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan after a New York Yankees championship. However, after a heart-wrenching 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the chance of that happening continued to fade. Because of that, the celebration of Mariano Rivera on Sunday afternoon was all the more important and more meaningful.
Rivera has gone out of his way at times to avoid the spotlight. He has come in to close out his games and has done so quietly and in a composed manner, a stark contrast to some of his fellow closers, who all seem to have their own act, dance or hand motion without any of Mo's longevity. On this day, however, it was clear that the Yankees and their fans were not about to let Rivera go without a happy, loud sendoff fitting for the greatest reliever of all time.
For an hour prior to the game the Yankees pulled out all the stops in showing Rivera just how important he has been to the fans, to the franchise and to all of baseball. Metallica sang a live version of their famous song, "Enter Sandman," which has been Rivera's entry music for the majority of his career. The Yankees gave Rivera a check for his foundation, a Waterford Crystal replica of his glove, a rocking chair made of baseball bats and a replica jersey.
Former teammates Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui and Tino Martinez, along with former manager Joe Torre, showed up to honor him and to celebrate the golden times over which they all presided. The fans also did their part, giving Rivera a standing ovation on more than one occasion.
Perhaps most poignant of all, the Yankees retired Mariano Rivera's #42 and Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, did Rivera the honor of attending the ceremony. As the number is retired all across baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson, no one else was going to wear the number ever again but, it was a fitting tribute to the incomparable reliever.
Rivera said, "To have Rachel and the Robinson family here, it means a lot to me...All the respect that I have for the family and for Mr. Jackie Robinson and all he did for us, me being the last one to wear the No. 42, I can't ask for better than that."
Neither can Yankee fans. So long Mo. Thanks for the memories.