Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball, announced on Saturday that he will be officially retiring at the end of this season “from the game that I love with a passion.”
He said he had a “few bullets left” and would “use them well” this season.
In an ultimate sign of respect for a pitcher hardly anyone has spoken badly of, Rivera’s teammates–like Yankee captain Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, who, along with Rivera and Jorge Posada, made up the “Core Four”–and Yankee legends like Reggie Jackson attended the press conference. So did Yankees general manager Brian Cashman–in a wheelchair.
Rivera’s 2.21 career ERA is the best is baseball history among pitchers who have thrown a minimum of 1,000 innings. He holds the Major League record for saves with 608.
Rivera, who will be the last person to wear Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, said it was a “privilege and honor” to carry the legacy of “Mr. Jackie” with “class and honor” and he has always tried his best to “carry the legacy of No. 42.”
When Major League Baseball retired No. 42 in honor of Robinson throughout the game, those who already had the number–like Rivera and Mo Vaughn–were grandfathered in and allowed to continue wearing the number.
“I will continue doing that to the end,” Rivera said. “Mr. Jackie Robinson … gave us the opportunity to come here and play.
The 43-year-old hurler and 19-year veteran said he was going to retire last season but a freak injury while shagging fly balls before a game in Kansas City changed his mind. He said he wasn’t “going to go out like that.”
According to reports, Rivera, in another sign of class for which he is renowned, has also instructed Yankees management to find regular people–like ushers and fans–at every road game this season so he could thank them personally for loving and supporting the game of baseball.