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Sunday, September 22, 2013
Yankees honor Mariano Rivera

By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees honored Mariano Rivera's storied 19-year career before Sunday's game against the San Francisco Giants.

The 50-minute ceremony included visits from ex-teammates, the retiring of Rivera's No. 42 and the heavy metal rock band Metallica performing "Enter Sandman" -- Rivera's entrance song -- on the outfield warning track.

"The whole thing was special. I wasn't expecting something like that," said Rivera, who was also visited by the president of his native Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, on Sunday. "Seeing my ex-teammates and the whole stadium packed with a lot of flags and fellow Panamanians. [There were] a lot of emotions. It was more than what I was thinking."

Rivera, baseball's all-time saves leader with 652, was joined by ex-manager Joe Torre and ex-teammates Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez, among others, during the ceremony.

The Yankees also put together a five-minute video tribute featuring Derek Jeter, Posada, Andy Pettitte, who made his last home start on Sunday, and other teammates.

Afterward, the ex-teammates and team personnel reflected on Rivera's career.

"He was about as good a security blanket as a manager could ever have," Torre said.

The Yankees also hung Rivera's jersey number in the stadium's Monument Park to make him the first active Yankee to receive the honor. Rivera was the last player in all of baseball to wear 42. The number was retired league-wide in honor of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who broke baseball's color barrier.

The Yankees unveiled a bronze plaque in Monument Park in honor of Robinson and his No. 42.

Robinson's wife, Rachel, and daughter, Sharon, attended the ceremony.

"It is a great honor for me to be the last baseball player to ever wear No. 42," Rivera said.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Sept. 22, 2013, "Mariano Rivera Day."

In addition, the Yankees donated a $100,000 check to Rivera's foundation, gave him a chair partially made out of bats and a Waterford crystal replica of his game glove.

Sunday's game could be one of the last for Rivera. The Yankees play just three more regular-season games at home and three on the road.

The game -- a 2-1 loss to the Giants -- dropped the Yankees four games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild-card spot in the AL. Rivera pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings, allowing one hit and recording a strikeout. Pettitte, meanwhile, started off with five hitless innings but ended up taking the loss by allowing two runs over seven innings.

Rivera
Part of the Rivera tribute day at Yankee Stadium included custom bases.

But the ceremony on Sunday wasn't about standings or statistics. It was all about Rivera.

"The numbers speak for themselves. But the way he's went about his business is something you wish that everyone could do," said manager Joe Girardi, who served as Rivera's catcher from 1996-99. "I would tell my son or my kids this is an example of how you're supposed to go about your work."

Rivera has an MLB-high 42 postseason saves and is a five-time World Series champion. He has continued to perform at a high level this season, his 19th in the big leagues.

Rivera has 44 saves this season and has pitched to a 2.15 ERA. He is the only pitcher to ever record a 40-save season at age 40 or older, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"In our lifetime, I don't know if we'll be able to say another pitcher did what he's done at 43," Girardi said. "We have watched something that is truly special."