Mariano Rivera is, without question, the best and most influential relief pitcher of all time.
He is the all-time leader in saves with 652, he won five World Series championships, and he played his whole career wearing just one uniform: that of the New York Yankees.
He retired nine years ago, in 2013.
MLB’s official Twitter feed didn’t miss the opportunity to remember Rivera’s last appearance in front of his fans, at Yankee Stadium, nine years ago.
It was filled with emotion, tears, and an unexpected surprise.
9 years ago today, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte went to the mound to take Mariano Rivera out for the final time. 😢 pic.twitter.com/w0MGWOpTXN
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) September 26, 2022
A Special Goodbye
The Yankees manager at the time, Joe Girardi, had determined that Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, two of Rivera’s closest friends in baseball, would take the ball out of his hand so he could have one last round of applause from the Yankee Stadium crowd.
Rivera didn’t see it coming: when he saw his two friends walking to the mound, he grinned.
Then, as he gave the ball to Pettitte, he started crying in his arms in one of the most powerful moments in modern MLB history.
He then hugged Jeter and walked off the mound to the dugout, not without tipping his cap to the crowd as a token of appreciation.
The Yankees didn’t make the postseason that year, but it didn’t matter: Yankee Stadium was full because people wanted to say goodbye to one of the best Yankees players of all time.
Six years later, in 2019, Rivera became the first and only player to be elected unanimously to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.NEXT: Aaron Boone Comments On Aaron Judge's Chase