It was Joe Girardi's idea. Derek Jeter said the Yankees' manager came to him and Andy Pettitte just after the ninth inning began to tell them they would visit the mound to take Mariano Rivera out of a game at Yankee Stadium for the final time after he got the second out.
When Jeter and Pettitte emerged from the dugout and people realized what was happening, it had a stunning effect on the sellout crowd and, most of all, upon Rivera. The great reliever broke down and cried as he embraced Pettitte first.
"He broke down and just gave me a bear hug, and I just bear-hugged him back," Pettitte said. "He was really crying. He was weeping. I could feel him crying on me . . . There was so much emotion running through him, and I felt like I didn't want to let go. So, I just kept hugging him. I was going to go with it as long as he wanted to stay out there."
Jeter has been part of a lot of special moments at the Stadium, but this one ranked up there with any of them. "I thought it was cool," Jeter said. "I'm glad I had an opportunity to be a part of it. I've been coming to Mo at the mound, but I've been coming at a different angle most of the time. But I'm glad Joe let us be a part of it because we've been like brothers for 21 years."
Clearly, even Jeter's fabled reserve was not immune to the sentiment coursing through the Stadium. "I'm just happy that he was able to go out like this with what the fans did for him," Jeter said. "This whole homestand has been awesome . . . The fans have been awesome here for our whole careers, and they just added another moment."
Reflecting on the success he enjoyed over the years with Rivera and Pettitte, Jeter said it really all came down to their shared values, character and respect for the game. "We're similar in our attitude toward the game and toward other people," Jeter said. "That's why we get along and why we've been able to stay here this long. That's why we've been able to have success.
"That's just who he is. It's not a front. You can't act one way and be another way, especially in New York all this time without somebody figuring it out."
Jeter said he spoke to Pettitte during the game and asked him if it was weird to know this was his last time in uniform at the stadium. "I can't imagine that," Jeter said.
But now he is the last man standing from the core that led the Yankees to their last five World Series championships. "I haven't even thought about it," Jeter insisted. "I'm thinking about Mo; I'm thinking about Andy; I'm happy that they've gotten the applause they've gotten, the appreciation they've gotten from everyone. I'm happy for them. I'm not thinking about myself."