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Man waits 14 hours to meet Mariano Rivera at Huntington book signing

Chris Monteleone, 24, of West Babylon, and Kenny

Chris Monteleone, 24, of West Babylon, and Kenny Mitchell, 58, of Garden City, were the second and first in line, respectively, to meet Yankees legend Mariano Rivera at Book Revue in Huntington on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Credit: Brittany Wait

Kenny Mitchell waited outside Book Revue at 5 a.m. Tuesday, only to be let in at 9 a.m., buy Yankees legend Mariano Rivera’s pre-signed memoir “The Closer” and wait in another line for another 10 hours on the second floor of the Huntington bookstore.

At 6:45 p.m., the future Hall of Famer -- who pitched in the Bronx from 1995 to 2013 -- made his way upstairs to begin greeting the 1,000 fans in a line that stretched along bookcases throughout the store and into the street and around the corner on Main Street.

Mitchell, the first in line, began stomping his feet and chanting, “Mariano, Mariano.” The rest in line soon followed along.

“He’s the greatest relief pitcher of all time, a good man and a player you could count on,” said Mitchell, 58, of Garden City. “He comes from humble beginnings and there’s not that many of them out there that aren’t on steroids, so he’s an athlete you can look up to.”

Robert Klein, co-owner of the 37-year-old book store, said at 2 p.m. they sold out of the 1,000 copies they were given, so hundreds had to be turned away.

“It hasn’t been this crazy since Bill Clinton came five years ago,” said Klein, 61, of Centerport.

Mitchell, who went to Mariano’s last home game in September, said it was well worth waiting 14 hours in line.

“I wouldn’t miss this,” he said. “Plus the time has really gone by because I’ve made friends.”

Mitchell met Chris Monteleone, who got in line right next to him at 5:30 a.m.

“It’s the great Mariano Rivera,” said Monteleone, 24, of West Babylon. “So I sacrifice a couple hours of sleep, I get to shake his hand and thank him for playing the game right.”

Alison Shih waited in line since 5:45 a.m., not for herself but for her 9-year-old son Ryan.

“It’s his favorite player, so he’ll be here after school,” said Shih, 44, of Huntington. “He only got into baseball last September, but he already knows all the stats, has the baseball cards and plays on a team. I felt compelled to do this for him for his birthday on Sunday.”

Shannon Garofola and her grandparents weren’t as lucky. She left her last class at Hofstra University and rushed down to the bookstore to find that all the books had been sold out.

“I bleed pinstripes. I’m the one who yells at the TV during the games,” said Garofola, 19, of Huntington. “I was very disappointed. I didn’t realize once the books sold out that you couldn’t even see him. But, hey at least we caught a glimpse of him walking in.”

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