Major League Baseball will officially never have a player wear the jersey number 42 when this regular season ends. The number has been retired for a number of years, in honor of former Dodgers’ great, Jackie Robinson. Yet, when the number was retired, one player donned it and was allowed to keep it for the remainder of his now ending career.
Yankees’ closing pitcher, Mariano Rivera, announced his retirement prior to the start of this baseball season. Rivera said that the 2013 year would be his last.
Now, with the days winding down in September, the race for playoff spots in the MLB postseason is on, with Rivera’s Yankees in contention for a spot. Within a little more than a month’s time, Rivera’s historic career will be over, and he will finish as the all-time leader in Saves in Major League history.
Along the way, Rivera won five World Series rings with the Yankees, and is widely recognized as one of the best pitchers in baseball history.
This recognition has been put on stage by various teams around the league in forms of gifts to Rivera this season. These gifts, ranging from a surfboard to a chair made of bats that Rivera had broken with his memorable cut fastball, were presented to Rivera whenever the Yankees visited the team’s city for the last time this season.
It has been a sign of respect from many of the teams from around the league. Rivera even received gifts from rival teams in the Yankees’ division, such as the Red Sox presenting him with a 1934 seat from Fenway Park, the Rays giving him a sand sculpture with his likeness, and the Orioles awarded him with a sculpture of a ball breaking a bat.
Retirement tours have become more of a norm in the past 10 years or so, beginning with former Orioles’ third baseman, Cal Ripken Jr., and having occurred as recently as last year with former Braves’ third baseman, Chipper Jones.
However, none of these tours has quite matched up to the level of respect that Rivera has received from around the league.
A likely first ballot Hall-of-Famer, Rivera’s performance has earned him respect and first class treatment from his fans and peers alike, as he leaves the game he dominated for 19 seasons.
Despite being such a high profile athlete, on a stage as big as New York, Rivera has always remained humble and has often helped out in his native Panama through his foundation. In the past, Rivera has helped build an elementary school for youth that could not receive in education.
Yankee fan or not you have to have respect for Rivera.
Through and through, Rivera has graced Major League Baseball with his presence for the past 19 seasons, and he will be missed by many.