Mariano Rivera grew up in Panama with a milk carton glove and a tree branch for a bat. He came to the United States as a 20-year-old kid with a motionless fastball and no expectations of making a major league roster, let alone becoming one of the most revered figures in the history of New York sports.
As the Yankees’ legend marches through the final — and perhaps most challenging — season of his impressive 19-year career, he can’t help but reminisce upon the moments that elevated him to baseball immortality.
“I think all the [moments] have been precious,” said Rivera, who kicked off his Mo-ments Campaign at the AT&T Flagship Store in Times Square Wednesday.
“The defeats, the victories, they have been precious because they have made me who I am,” added Rivera, 43.
Heading into last night’s game, Rivera’s 29 saves this season are the third most in baseball and one off the pace set by the Orioles’ Jim Johnson and the Rangers’ Joe Nathan. On Tuesday, he will make his 13th and final All-Star appearance.
Although Rivera is still pitching at an elite level, he remains steadfast in his intentions to call it quits after this season.
“This is it. ... Being able to leave the game the way I wanted to, I don’t want to abuse that,” Rivera said.
Rivera still has 34 more games left at Yankee Stadium to abuse his opponent’s bats and potentially help lead the Yankees toward the playoffs for the 18th time in his career.
Just don’t ask the surefire Hall of Famer to take any credit for the immense success he has experienced as a Yankee, both on and off the field.
“It’s not about one player; it’s about [a] team,” Rivera said. “... When you work as a team, you get good results. All I’ve tried to do is give my best.”