Shortly after the Hall of Fame announced that Mariano Rivera (unanimously) and Mike Mussina (76.7%) will be inducted in Cooperstown later this year, praise from Yankees officials, ex-teammates and former opponents poured in:
On Mariano Rivera
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner (via statement): “Mariano was a fierce competitor and a humble champion, which has made him such a beloved baseball legend. Success and stardom never changed Mariano, and his respect for the game, the Pinstripes and for his teammates and opponents alike makes this day such a celebration of his legacy. There will be many more great and talented relief pitchers, but there will never be another like him. This is another incredible achievement for Mariano, and a day like today brings me great pride knowing he wore the Pinstripes for each and every game of his remarkable career.”
Yankees senior vice president and general manager Brian Cashman (via statement): “It’s humbling to think of the incredible journey that Mariano has had over the course of his life — his unassuming beginnings in a Panamanian fishing village to pitching for the Yankees under the brightest lights with the world watching. I speak for every Yankees fan when I say how fortunate we were to have had him on our side for so long. Clearly his World Series rings and longtime statistical dominance testify to his standing among the greats to ever play our sport. But no matter how big a star he became, he never failed to carry himself with unerring professionalism and class. Mo was always someone who I could point to and say, ‘That’s what a Yankee should be like.’”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone (via statement): “Mariano was simply the best ever at closing out games. He had the perfect combination of confidence and humility, and it was a thrill to play alongside him.”
Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada (via statement): “Mariano is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime pitcher, and the greatest closer to ever play the game of baseball. There was such a humility and grace to the way he did his job — day after day and year after year. I’m so proud of everything he has accomplished, and I’m ecstatic that he and his family can celebrate this ultimate honor.”
Former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte (via statement): “Mo, congrats on being a first ballot Hall of Famer. What an honor it was playing alongside of you for all those years. When I look back on my career, many of my best memories directly involve you. This is a pretty obvious statement, but I wouldn’t want anyone else closing out a game that I started. I never took for granted what you provided for each and every starting pitcher in our rotation.”
Former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams (via statement): “When it comes to Mariano, I had the best seat in the house from center field watching him pitch. It was mindboggling to see him literally just mow down hitters. Mariano would cause more broken bats in one inning than most starters had in an entire game. If we had a lead in the ninth inning — the game was over. He achieved a level of consistency for such a long time, and that is very hard to do. You just don’t really see that in a reliever. That’s what made him so remarkable. Everyone in the stadium knew he was going to throw that cutter – and they still couldn’t hit it.
“Mariano, in almost two decades of pitching, essentially dominated three generations of players of the mid 1990s, through the 2000s and into this decade and he did it with just one pitch. He faced everyone from Cal Ripken Jr. and Ken Griffey, Jr. to Ichiro, David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera, to Mike Trout and Manny Machado.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but in the clubhouse, Mariano was a prankster — he was very funny and would play jokes on guys and keep things loose. He was also one of those old school players that took it upon himself to take care of young players. He would take rookies to dinner, talk to them about life as a major leaguer and how to carry yourself. He was always very embracing of the young blood on the team — a great teammate.
“He was also a family man who was very devoted to his wife and kids. Perhaps the one thing I admired most about him is that on his long road to becoming the greatest reliever of all time, he included his family, and took this journey with them close by him the entire time. That’s just the kind of man he is.
“There was, and always will be just one Mariano — a special player, special teammate, special man.”
Former Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez (via statement): “Mo was the only closer in baseball that jogged onto the field and everyone knew the game was over — including the opponent. He was such a class act. He never showed up a batter after striking someone out or retiring the final batter of the game. It was such a joy being a teammate of his.”
Former Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill (via statement): "He is absolutely the best. I have said it many times — we would never have had the run in the ‘90s without Mo! I don’t know many people I respect more than Mariano, because of who he is and how he stayed who he was, even while being the best ever.”
Fellow Hall of Fame Class of 2019 inductee Edgar Martinez (via statement): “Mo is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and he is the greatest closer of all time. It was always a challenge to face him, but I enjoyed the competition, and I like to think he did, too. It is very special for me to be able to share this day and this honor with him. Especially since, not only was he a great pitcher, but he did terrific work in his communities.”
Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman (via statement): “Congratulations, Mariano. Throughout your career, you exemplified the meaning of the phrase ‘Hall of Famer.’ You are one of the most amazing pitchers in baseball history and have always represented the game with great class and dignity. Enjoy your rightful place in Cooperstown.”
On Mike Mussina
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner (via statement): “I’m very pleased that Hall of Fame voters recognized Mike’s consistently dominant career by honoring him with enshrinement into Cooperstown. While he went about his business in an understated way, Mike was a premier pitcher for almost two decades while competing in the grueling American League East. I’d like to congratulate Mike on this incredible distinction and for his many years of contributions to the Yankees and the game of baseball.”
Yankees senior vice president and general manager Brian Cashman (via statement): “I’m so happy to see Moose recognized for his incredible career. Accomplishing what he did while spending all 18 of his seasons in the ultra-competitive AL East is remarkable. Unlike the big arms that dominate today’s pitching landscape, Mike was a quintessential craftsman who played up to his strengths and hunted for the weaknesses in his opposition — before that level of preparation was a commonplace thing to do. More importantly though, he was a gamer, plain and simple. He wanted the ball, and did everything within his power to get himself ready to contribute. I don’t get too invested in players’ individual milestones, but I was thrilled that he won 20 games in his final season. He deserved that validation then just like he deserves the validation he’s going to get this summer in Cooperstown.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone (via statement): “I absolutely loved playing behind Mike Mussina. He was a perfectionist and his athleticism allowed him to do whatever he needed to do on the mound to be successful.”
Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada (via statement): “Moose was the most intelligent pitcher I ever caught. He made catching fun because he was so well prepared. When we took the field together, he was always two steps ahead of everyone else wearing a uniform. This special recognition is well deserved. Congrats Moose.”
Former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte (via statement): “Congrats Moose. This is such a deserving honor. What you were able to accomplish while spending your entire career in the AL East was absolutely amazing. You were one of the best pitchers I’ve ever played with, and I was always in awe of the way you attacked hitters — exploiting their weaknesses with control and precision of such an array of pitches. You were a true master of your craft.”
Former Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill (via statement):“Mike was a very quiet and very smart pitcher; he was definitely one of the best of his generation! He just never made the headlines because of his quiet personality!”
Former Yankees catcher John Flaherty (via statement): “When you were catching Mike Mussina, you quickly realized that you were catching a pitching genius! I have never caught a pitcher who was more self-aware of what kind of stuff he had in each particular start. One day he would be a dominant power pitcher with his fastball, and five days later he would be a finesse pitcher with his off-speed stuff. To do it all in the offensive AL East — genius!”