It’s a sendoff that even moved the head coach to tears. A night at Yankee stadium that fans and baseball lovers will remember forever.
It’s seems as though it was a moment in time that made everyone forget about the disastrous Yankee season; amidst their ups and downs, and scrutiny, Mariano Rivera was again, able to bring fans back down to earth to cherish a moment with the beloved Yankee icon and make the Yankees feel like, well the old Yankees again.
As Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter made their way out to take Mariano Rivera out for his final game at Yankee Stadium, all Mo could do was bury his head into Pettitte’s shoulder and let his emotions go.
Pettitte signaled to the bullpen, and signaled an end of an era. Mo cried uncontrollably as the two of his Core Four teammates embraced him on the mound.
“They both came to get me out and I was thankful they came out,” Rivera said. “I needed them there and they were there.”
From Rivera’s Bleacher Creature roll call to the endless chants of “Ma-ri-a-no!” all game long, it was clear that the closer was going to be the centerpiece of an otherwise mundane evening.
With Tampa Bay leading by four runs in the eighth with one out, Girardi knew it was time as he signaled to the bullpen.
A sellout crowd of 48,675, which was a rarity at games this season, rose to their feet to salute their closer for the last time.
The bullpen doors opened, and the stadium echoed with Metallica’s Enter Sandman, as was announced by a recorded Bob Sheppard, No. 42 trotted out from centerfield to the mound for once last time.
Rivera got out of a jam in the eighth leaving men on first and second. But at this point the score was irrelevant. This was Mo’s night.
In fact the fans even cheered for an ovation from Andy Pettitte before the Rays took the field in the bottom of the eighth. Andy popped out of the dugout and tipped his cap to the fans for one last time at Yankee Stadium.
While Andy was thanking the crowd, Mo was in the hallway to the clubhouse heading to the trainers room.
Everything started hitting me, flashbacks, to the minor leagues and the big leagues, to this moment,” he said. “I was bombarded with emotions and feelings I can’t describe. I knew this was the last time.”
The Yanks ran out of the dugout to take the field in the top of the ninth. But there Mo sat; taking in the sights, the sounds, and feel of what it would be like taking the mound in the ninth inning for the last time in his historic baseball career.
You could see it in his face, that it was all hitting him at that moment and time. Mo took a deep breath, grabbed his hat and glove, and stepped out of the dugout to a crowd that remained standing.
Mo took the mound, picked up the ball, and looked around the stadium. It’s almost like everything was happening in slow motion, like Mo, and the fans just didn’t want it to end.
That was until Pettitte and Jeter came to take him out and Jete mouthed to Mo, “It’s time to go.”
Girardi got the OK from crew chief Mike Winters to allow Jeter and Pettitte to go retrieve Mo off the mound.
“I really appreciate that because I think it made the moment even more special for Mo,” Girardi said. “Two guys that have been linked to him a long time, came up through the minor leagues, have been through a lot together. I think it made the moment even more special.”
At that point the commentators fell silent and let the moment play out. Mo smiled when he saw his longtime friends and teammates come out and signal to the bullpen. Mo was overcome with emotion once they got to the mound. He embraced them, and cried and well the rest is history.
“I was bombarded with emotions and feelings that I couldn’t describe,” Rivera said. “Everything hit at that time. I knew that that was the last time, period. I never felt something like that before.”
As a teary Mo made his way to the dugout, he tipped his cap to the fans and was embraced by an emotional Girardi at the top of the dugout.
“He made my job fun,” Girardi said. “He made my job easy. But probably more than that, he made all our lives better, and we’ll miss that.”
Mo was hugged by every teammate and coach as he made his way down the dugout. As he got to the end of the dugout, with Mariano chants echoing through the stadium wanting him to give them an ovation, he obliged and stepped out of the dugout to tip his cap once again.
At this point, the fans were waiting for the game to end so they would be able to thank their beloved Yankee that they grew to love and cherish over the past 19 years.
With the last out of the game recorded, and Yankee players exiting the dugout and making their way to the clubhouse, there Mo sat, alone, taking in the stadium for one last time.
Photographers surrounded him sitting there, but it didn’t seem to faze Mo. He sat there looking at the field for a few seconds before he gathered himself for once last time, rose out of the dugout to take the mound alone.
It was just Mo surrounded by the crowd of 48,675 Yankee fans. Mo knelt down and collected some sand from the mound as he did the rest of the fields he visited during the 2013 season.
“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.”
As Mo walked off, he tipped he cap to the fans all the way to the dugout, spun around to gaze at the sold out crowd, and descended to the clubhouse; exiting the stadium for the last time as an active Yankee player.
Only a fairytale could be written like that and end like that. But in a way Mo’s career was already fairytale in the making.
Ever since he started throwing his cutter fastball, something coaches tried to stop, everyone knew Mo was going to be special.
If you categorize a special player as receiving gifts from every baseball team around the league, and being cheered at every away game he entered this season, than yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty special player.
A player that has already gone down in history. A player that has won the hearts of baseball fans everywhere. A player that will be missed but never forgotten. Number 42 has made his mark, and it will stay on Yankee hearts forever.
I cant’t say I’ve seen a better moment in sports history than what I watched that night. There certainly won’t be another night like last Thursday night, and there most certainly won’t be another Mariano Rivera. Thanks’ for the memories Mo, for the magical night and being witnesses of your magical career.