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Rivera or Jerzembeck? Suffolk IDA board candidate recalls agent days

Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera tips his cap to

Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera tips his cap to the fans after his last game as a player at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 26, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

You could say Anthony Giordano was one of the first to know that the great Mariano Rivera wouldn’t make his name as a starting pitcher. 

Or you could say that Giordano just didn’t know Rivera – dismissing the New York Yankees’ just-retired, future-Hall-of-Fame closer in favor of a career minor leaguer.

Either way, Giordano, a former pro baseball agent and now candidate for Suffolk’s Industrial Development Agency board, amused county lawmakers on Wednesday with the self-deprecating story about his assessment of a young legend-to-be. 

In the mid-1990s, Giordano represented Mike Jerzembeck, a Queens-born righthander in the Yankees organization, and recalled once trying to convince the team’s front-office of his client’s worth.

“They didn’t want to bring him up. But they had this other pitcher that they were talking about bringing up and I’m like, ‘He’s not even a starting pitcher! I wouldn’t even waste your time. My guy’s the guy,’” Giordano told the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee.

“But they decided to bring up Mariano Rivera instead of my guy.” 

Lawmakers – who were about to approve the Smithtown resident’s appointment – broke out in chuckles.

“So they listened. They agreed that he wasn’t a starting pitcher,” Giordano said of Rivera, with perfect comedic timing. “But the rest is history.”

Rivera made his major league debut as a starter in 1995, and was inconsistent before excelling in the bullpen at the close of that season. He retired at the end of last season as a five-time World Series Champion and Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader.

As for Jerzembeck?

He pitched parts of eight minor league seasons in the Yankees’ and Minnesota Twins’ organizations, amassing a 35-35 record and 3.81 ERA. He also made it into three major league games at the end of the Yankees’ historic 114-win season in 1998, but gave up nine earned runs in 6-1/3 innings.

Giordano, after leaving the sports agent business, now works as a financial planner. After committee approval, his appointment to the Suffolk IDA board will come before the full county legislature on Tuesday.

One of his jobs will to be help choose which businesses are worth providing financial incentives to either relocate, expand, or remain on Long Island.

“So you got that one behind you,” Legis. Lou D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) quipped about Giordano’s error in judgment. “Hopefully that won’t happen with the IDA.”

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