Mariano Rivera wants stadium bullpen mementos
By Mariano Rivera, Special to Y! Sports
Sep 20, 2008
Editor’s note: Mariano Rivera has played his entire 14-year career with the New York Yankees, appearing in 847 games and saving 480 – second-most of all-time. He spent time with Yahoo! Sports reporter Jose Mota to reflect on the closing of Yankee Stadium.
I have a plan as to which items I want to take with me after the last game. We all talk about it in the clubhouse and get a good laugh. I have every intention of taking the bench from the bullpen. This bench means a lot to me and to the members of the bullpen, it’s right in front of the mural. It’s mine.
Also I want to take a chair and the pitching rubber from the bullpen, along with plenty of dirt and grass. You know, it’s like my home, and all of these things have a special meaning to me. Some people might wonder why I’m so attached to that bench. I’m already hearing, ‘Why are you taking it?’ Man, it’s like moving from your childhood home.
I can’t think about that stadium and not think about the whole Yankee tradition, the arches, the championships, the names that built it, as they say ‘The House that Ruth Built.’ Not just him, all of the greats that laid the foundation for what is now the rich history of our team and our city, especially the Bronx. I think about all the pitchers that stepped on the mound and grinded it out, sweating. There are so many things that come to mind with all the great teams that I have been blessed to be a part of, thank God.
To be part of so many celebrations with my teammates, Mr. (Bob) Sheppard’s voice announcing my name, the music, the hot summers, the snow … so, so many things that all of sudden I realize how they’ve become part of who I am. In all of it, please let’s not forget Mr. Steinbrenner and everything he has put into making the Stadium what it became, by caring so much about the fans and the teams he put together for us. George is a huge part of Yankee Stadium.
In all of that I’ve learned to value even more the significance of wearing this Yankees uniform and the uniqueness of the die-hard fans. This building has made me stronger in every sense, there’s nothing quite like when the noise is high and the rocking atmosphere at Yankee Stadium. I’ve come to know more about its history in other events, like the Pope, boxing matches, concerts, soccer and football games, too … things I didn’t know. I also think about the tragedy of 9/11 and how close it was to here, for all of the victims and their families.
Let me share something I experienced here and that I will never forget. I see people that come to this stadium and they grind it out in their daily lives, pay their money and watch us play. It really hit home with me one day when we were playing a game and I wasn’t able to do my job. I lost the game and let so many people down, and I was very upset.
As I started to walk off the field, I noticed people gathering around a particular fan. I remember how hot it was, because this was after a mid-summer day game. This fan had suffered an apparent heart attack – the next day someone told me the person had died – and here I am so upset about a loss, still fuming, and this Yankees fan comes to the ballpark to enjoy the game and is fighting for his life in the stands. That moment still impacts me today. God showed during that time the importance of having a realistic perspective on things, especially losses. I was so miserable thinking, ‘Here I am, ticked off about a game, and yes, it is my job, but I saw this person fighting for his life, man. A life!’
I can clearly recall the successful outings and also the ones where I failed, couldn’t get the job done. Knowing that I gave 100 percent every single time out there makes me feel at peace with what I leave at the Stadium. A lot of my character has been built on that mound, not only for what I’ve been able to accomplish on the field, but also with who I’ve become as a person because of all of the tough moments.