When Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, entered his final All-Star game in the eighth inning on Tuesday, Citi Field’s loudspeakers blared “Enter Sandman,” which has been Rivera’s entrance music since the 1999 season.
Everything after that was unfamiliar. Rivera, known for closing out games in the ninth inning, was warming up in the eighth.
And in a tribute befitting one of the classiest players to ever put on a Major League uniform, his American League All-Star teammates did not take the field, giving Rivera the stage all to himself as he was warming up. They enthusiastically stood up and applauded, as did the National League’s All-Stars. Other teammates–like Angels phenom Mike Trout–were filming the moment on their mobile phones.
The New York crowd gave him a thunderous standing ovation that lasted for minutes, with Rivera acknowledging the crowd multiple times by doffing his hat and gesturing to his heart.
Rivera retired the side in order, and then received another round of ovations as he walked off the mound at an All-Star game for the final time.
The American League ultimately won the Midsummer Classic 3-0 and Rivera was named the game’s MVP, but his eighth inning will be the game’s most indelible moment.