Mariano on farewell: 'Humbling'

Updated: September 16, 2013, 11:30 AM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox bade farewell to Mariano Rivera on Sunday night with an elaborate pregame ceremony that was part symphonic concert, part tribute and part roast.

It started with the Boston Cello Quartet playing a string version of the closer's theme song, "Enter Sandman," and included a lighthearted video montage of Rivera blowing a save in Game 4 of the 2004 AL Championship Series, which led to the Red Sox winning their first world championship in 86 years.

Mariano Rivera
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsThe Red Sox honored longtime rival Mariano Rivera Sunday, greeting him with gifts on the diamond -- after showing highlights from Rivera's blown save during Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.

It ended with the presentation of four meaningful gifts -- a painting of Rivera, the green "42" placard used on the Fenway Park scoreboard whenever he pitches, an original seat from the ballpark and a pitching rubber from the bullpen.

Plus, the entire Red Sox team gathered on the infield to shake a beaming Rivera's hand as a congratulatory statement from Red Sox owner John Henry was read over the public-address system: "We tip our cap to the great Rivera, a fierce competitor and a gentleman."

Boston slugger David Ortiz gave Rivera a hug.

"Great ceremony. Great. Well done," Rivera said after a 9-2 Yankees loss in which he did not pitch. "Humbling. At the same time, I definitely appreciate what the Red Sox organization did. I will never forget that."

The ceremony lasted about 15 minutes and pushed back the start of the series, and the regular-season finale between the Yankees and Red Sox, to 8:13 p.m. ET.

As the Yankees batted in the ninth inning, Rivera wrote a message on the bullpen wall that read: "Mariano Rivera. Last to wear #42. Thanks for everything."

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney tweeted a picture of the message:

"I was giving thanks," Rivera said. "That's it. I was thanking the guys in the bullpen for everything."

Rivera said he wasn't offended by the Red Sox's good-natured ribbing about the 2004 ALCS.

"It's not strange. It was good, though," he said. "They have all the power to do that. They beat us that year. Why not? You have a great time, you have fun and they did. All the power to them."

Rivera has said he will retire after this season, his 19th with the Yankees. Fifty-eight of Rivera's 651 saves have come against the Red Sox.

Including playoffs, Rivera was 15-7 with 64 saves and a 2.59 ERA in 127 games against Boston in his 19-year career, starting with two innings of scoreless relief on Sept. 10, 1995. For him to face the Red Sox again -- either at Yankee Stadium or at Fenway -- both teams would have to make the playoffs.

"Hopefully it's not the last time," Rivera said before the game. "We're fighting for something. We want to get to the playoffs. I don't have any thinking about myself."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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