Last All Star game for all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 17- Before the start of the All-Star Game at Citi Field, the presence of Mariano Rivera on the field had more significance. The all-time leader in saves was taking in the festive atmosphere for the last time.
This was a special moment for No. 42, more significant than the previous 13 All-Star games wearing the uniform of the New York Yankees as a pitcher for the American League. To Rivera, though, every All-Star game has been special but his last one was in New York, where he established his Hall of Fame credentials.
“It’s great because it is home and to be here for the last time in New York. I could not ask for a better moment than that,” he said to a throng of media in the visitor’s American League clubhouse.
Rivera received congratulatory hugs from members of the AL team and just as many from the opposing NL all-stars when he got on field for batting practice.
It is the respect he earned, much of it around the country during the first half of this baseball season. On road trips with the Yankees, visiting teams have been giving Rivera one final moment, with accolades from fans and mementos presented to him at home plate prior to the first pitch.
Rivera will have his day in the Hall of Fame. Tuesday evening, he awaited the final moment and if the opportunity is presented Rivera could close the game. That has been hinted and speculated for weeks when he was selected once again to be a member of the American League All-Star pitching staff.
When asked if this game was more special, he commented, “Not as special. They all are, 13 of them they all have their meaning. Not because this is the last one will it be better than the others.”
The moment came earlier, in the eighth inning with the American League ahead 3-0. The Manager, Jim Leyland wanted to make sure Rivera had that opportunity to get in the game, save opportunity or not. Rivera, entered to his tune, "Sandman," The 45,186 cheered for 90 seconds. Rivera on the mound held back tears as members of the AL and NL squads came out of the dugouts and realized they were cheering also for a baseball icon.
"It almost made me cry," commented Rivera. "It was close. It was amazing. I will never forget that."
He threw 16 pitches, 11 going for strikes. It was, as Rivera said one of the best moments of his career along with the five world championships he has with the Yankees. But, this night not even Rivera could sense that this final Al-Star game would be so overwhelming.
It ended the way it was supposed to with Rivera getting the MVP Award. It was one inning with the best in the game.And there may never be another one like him,
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