- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- He is "a giver." He looks to share. So the more he pushes the spotlight away, the more it glows on Mariano Rivera.
Tuesday will be Matt Harvey's All-Star Game at the start, but it very well could be Rivera's by the finish. He is the biggest star among the All-Stars. His American League teammates -- and those on the National League squad -- speak with awe and honest admiration for the New York Yankees' 43-year-old closer.
It is the little stories that each player has of meeting Rivera or having their bat broken by Rivera or -- and this is when the smiles really become huge -- beating Rivera. From Justin Verlander to Felix Hernandez to Mike Trout to Adam Jones, ESPNNewYork.com collected testimonials about Rivera.
Zobrist will always be thankful to Rivera because, when he caught the final out of the 2009 All-Star Game, Rivera let him keep the ball. Other stars were just as effusive, while others had some fun when asked their favorite memory of Rivera.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter: "No. That's terrible. That's a terrible question [being asked my favorite memory of Rivera]. I got a hit off him once, I remember; that was my favorite memory. But otherwise, my only other memory is my bats were always blowing up when he was pitching. He always blows my bats smooth up and I have to get new bats."
Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia: "Probably finally getting a hit off him in my last at-bat. It was like a 97-hopper up the middle, and I’m like, 'Yeah, man. I just got a hit off a guy that has 900 saves.' So it's pretty cool. You admire what he does and respect the heck outta him, even though it's a big rivalry, whatever, but you pull for guys that do it like that."
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander: "He's the best closer the game's ever seen. What a great talent, and he really changed the game. As a pitcher, you have the utmost respect for him. He’s a class act and he's somebody I looked up to.
"I talked to him a couple times. I shook his hand over there and he's got long fingers, so I can see why his cutter is so darn good."
Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez: "He is a great human being. He's a winner. He's a great team player. The character he has on the mound and the way handles himself is unbelievable."
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones: "Mo is the greatest to ever do it. I got to watch first-hand Trevor Hoffman, being in San Diego, watch him close tons of games. But Mariano is doing it on the biggest stage in New York City. You don't get much better than Mariano Rivera.
"My last at-bat, I took him deep [for a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth]. That is probably my most memorable moment in my entire career unless I win a ring. That is the biggest home run so far."
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout: "It means a lot to be here to be in the same clubhouse with him. It is special. The presence he brings. [As a kid watching,] I knew whenever he came in the game he was going to close the deal. Growing up watching the Yankees, it was almost guaranteed."
All the ballplayers ESPNNewYork.com spoke to had a personal moment to share. Or, in Zobrist's case, a memento from 2009.
"He was gracious enough to let me keep the last out of that save that he had in '09," Zobrist said. “I caught the last out. He let me keep it. I know he had had three or four before that. I thought it was nice of him to do that.”
“He is a generous person from what I've heard. I haven't talked to him a lot. Everything I've heard from other people is that he is very generous. He is a very genuine person, as well. He is a giver, as well. I have nothing but respect for him."
Mike Mazzeo contributed to this story
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