The Yankees fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 last night, but we doubt anyone remembers there was a score because it was legendary closer Mariano Rivera's final game of baseball at Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte went to the mound to take Rivera out of the game, and Rivera cried as he hugged him. We dare you not to get teary:
Pettitte said, "I didn’t say anything at first, and I didn’t expect for him to be quite so emotional. He broke down and gave me a bear hug, and I bear-hugged him back. I mean, he was really crying. He was weeping, and I could feel him crying on me." Derek Jeter, who also went to the mound, hugged Rivera too. Jeter said, "I’m glad Joe [Girardi] let us be a part of it, because we’ve been like brothers for 21 years." The crowd cheered and gave him a standing ovation. (Giradi had to get permission from the umpires to allow Pettitte and Jeter onto the field.)
In the locker room, an emotional Rivera told reporters ,“After the eighth inning, I knew I was going back for the last time. It was a totally different feeling." He added, "I had to regain my composure. Everything started hitting me. Flashbacks from the minors and the majors, all the way through this run."
Former Yankees general manager Gene Michael recalled a spring training in the early 1990s to Daily News, where Rivera didn't look very good, throwing fastballs in the 80 mph range, "He was just another prospect, a baby with us. I put him in the car, drove him from Fort Lauderdale to Vero Beach to see Dr. Frank Jobe, and I was trying to tell him everything would be all right. He looked overwhelmed. I told him, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ He didn’t speak much English, so I put a Spanish station on the radio."
The News reports, "The arm got better, the fastball climbed into the mid-90s, Rivera developed a slider and then that cutter of his. The Yanks sent him down to the minors two more times before it all came together. But through it all, Michael said, Rivera always had two things going for him: He had remarkable location on his pitches, and he had a personality to die for. Everyone wished him, sincerely, the very best."
While on the mound, Rivera had collected some dirt, "I wanted to get some dirt and stand there for the last time. Knowing I’m not going to be there no more, especially pitching — maybe throwing a first pitch one year, one day, competing, I won’t be there no more, so that little time that I was there was special for me. Just me alone there.”