Mariano Rivera, at 43 years of age and 19 seasons with the Yankees, will retire at the end of the year. We’ve known that for over a month. What we weren’t previously aware of was the special way in which Rivera has decided to go about his farewell tour.
Rather than your typical highlight reel featured on the jumbotron followed by a bow, a wave, and a tip of the cap, Mo has chosen to spend time with people who work behind the scenes at each ballpark the team visits throughout the season. On Wednesday, he met with 25 people who work for the Indians in some capacity, along with the guy in the bleacher seats that beats the drum, who Mo specifically asked for. Here’s Rivera:
”I appreciate what you guys do,” Rivera said. ”We see mostly what goes on when we’re on the field and not what’s going on behind the scenes. I wanted to say thank you for everything that you guys do, for the love and passion you have for your team. It doesn’t matter if you are a Yankee fan or not. You are a baseball fan. Thank you for being here. I know you are busy, but thank you for taking a little bit of time. I appreciate that.”
As easy as it is to loathe the Yankees, it’s impossible not to appreciate Mariano Rivera. The guy has always managed to offer up such a sensible, genuine perspective, and with his heart in the right place. After speaking, Rivera opened the floor to questions, took some pictures, autographed a few baseballs, and spoke with some of the employees individually. This relatively simple gesture aptly captures the subtly of the closer’s many great qualities.
It would be easy to sit back and say he’s one of the classiest athletes in all of sports. But forget about sports, he’s doing it a hell of a lot better than most of us.