For the better part of two decades, the sound of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers signaled impending doom for opposing hitters and was accompanied by the sight of closer Mariano Rivera jogging to the mound from the outfield.
On Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, though, the song played as Rivera traversed the warning track on a golf cart. Rather than unleashing a torrent of cutters on helpless opponents, he was honored before the game for his induction into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s the culmination of everything, from humble beginnings all the way to today,” Rivera told reporters after the ceremony.
Rivera, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in July as its first unanimous selection, was joined on the field by his wife, his children and former Yankees manager Joe Torre. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte also congratulated Rivera in pre-taped videos that played on the Jumbotron.
“It has been tremendous,” Rivera said of the Hall of Fame process. “It has been busy, but it has been something special . . . We’re talking about the Hall of Fame. When you finish your career, that’s something spectacular, a blessing."
Rivera has made it clear that he remembers the beginning of this journey. He referenced his Panamanian roots, both in Cooperstown and on Saturday.
“I was a boy from Puerto Caimito, with a glove made of cardboard and a tree branch as a bat, and a baseball [made of clothes] wrapped with tape,” he said. He added that these challenging circumstances made his ascension to the pinnacle of the sport even more meaningful.
“That’s the reason why I always thank God, because my abilities weren’t enough,” Rivera said. “To end up in Cooperstown the way I ended up there, with the blessing to be 100 percent unanimous, is like the cherry on top of the ice cream, or however that goes.”
He also said he hopes there will be another unanimous selection soon, given Jeter’s eligibility next year.
“If it was me, it would be 1,000 percent,” Rivera said. “I played with Derek for so many years and seeing him day in and day out for all those years, and seeing the way he plays the game and respects the game, I don’t see why not.”
Rivera also said he appreciated that Torre was in attendance Saturday.
“Joe has so many titles in my life,” he said. “Older brother, father figure, friend . . . He gave me the opportunity to be the closer, gave me the support that I needed to be successful, and the rest is history.”