When he announced he was going to retire at the end of this season, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said he would make an effort to meet with fans and employees in every road ballpark on his farewell tour this season.
And the all-time Major League baseball saves leader has done exactly that.
As MLB.com documented, “Rivera chooses to say good-bye without the fanfare and festivities, but rather by reaching out to the grassroots of baseball, the so-called ‘little people’ who do such big jobs to make baseball what it is.”
While each city has honored Rivera this year, he has honored the visting team’s fans and employees, like he said he would do.
According to MLB.com, at each stop, Rivera “meets a group of the home team’s employees — none of the executives — and thanks them for the work they do in promoting baseball, applauds them for their efforts in selling tickets, and wonders, among other things, how they keep the field playable in adverse conditions.”
“People always recognize the ones out front, but you folks, the people behind the scene, are the ones who are important to the game,” Rivera said to Colorado Rockies employees, according to MLB.com. “I want to take time to make sure to thank you for everything you have done for the organization and the game of baseball.
Added Rivera, “It does not matter if you are not a fan of the New York Yankees or myself. You are fans of baseball. And that’s important .. They are the people we play the game for … They are the reason we are here.”
Rivera hails from a poor fishing village in Panama and he proves, as he always says, with his actions that he has “have never forgotten where I came from.”
“It’s why I am who I am,” Rivera said. “It is the basis of my life.”
Rivera has been perfect in his 16 save opportunities this season, a year removed from a season-ending injury in Kansas City.
“I am coming back,” Rivera said at the time, as MLB.com noted. “Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going down like this.”
Rivera is going out–and doing it–his way. With class and an understated and timeless style that has made him one of the game’s legendary pitchers and someone who could have been casted better to be the last player to wear Jackie Robinson’s no. 42.