Special Day In Denver For Mariano Rivera
May 8, 2013 – Next season’s New York Yankees Official Yearbook will include a lengthy section on the legendary career of Mariano Rivera. Within the 30-page (or more) portion of the publication, there will be a piece on the closer’s farewell tour.
Opposing teams in each town that Rivera and the Yankees play in this season are planning to honor him in pre-game ceremonies.
One of those ceremonies took place in Denver on May 8, as the Colorado Rockies paid tribute to Rivera and presented him with a check for his foundation.
Additionally, as Rivera makes his final stop in major league cities this season, he is planning to spend time with small groups of people who he believes deserve to be recognized for their contributions to the game.
Before the on-field festivities in Colorado, Rivera hosted a meet-and-greet with about 10 people, most of whom work for the Rockies. At Rivera’s request, Rockies PR personnel identified the individuals who made up the small gathering, and they included long-time members of the grounds crew as well as other members front office employees.
When Rivera walked into the small press conference room at Coors Field, he immediately demonstrated how gracious he is.
“I want to make sure that I took the time to thank each and every one of you for what you’ve done for your organization and for the game of baseball,” Rivera said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of the Yankees or a fan of me. I don’t want to take for granted the things you do behind the scenes, because the players wouldn’t be able to be on the field every day.”
After Rivera answered questions about how he remains calm in pressure-packed situations and how he learned to throw his famous cutter, he was hit with a question that caused him to pause.
“You define about a 25-year time period in baseball,” said Jim Saccomano, who is the longtime VP of public relations for the Denver Broncos and possibly the most dedicated Yankees I’ve ever come across. “Fans measure the game by you. Is it possible for a guy like you to understand just how important you are?
“Well, that’s a hard question to answer, because I never thought about myself in that way,” Rivera said. “I’m just a simple man who goes out and tries to do the job for my organization. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to play for the Yankees. Where I came from in Panama, we couldn’t even afford baseballs or baseball bats. I have never forgotten where I came from. I guess that makes me a humble person.”
A big part of my story on the Coors Field meet-and-greet will be about Saccomano, who I interviewed a few hours before the game at his Denver home.
I spoke to Saccomano again after the meet-and-greet, and he shared his excitement about the event with me.
“Nothing is exactly as you expect,” said Saccomano, who has attended about 200 Yankees games in 16 cities since the middle of the 2003 season. “This was better than I expected it to be. For me, it was a career moment, and I was deeply honored to be included.”
After visiting with Saccomano, I caught up with Rivera, and I asked him if any questions stood out to him during the meet-and-greet.
“The question about what I thought about myself was interesting,” Rivera said. “It’s something I never dreamed I would be asked. I enjoyed the question because it made me think about the good things I’ve bee a part of with the Yankees.”
My fellow editors and I will be on several more road trips this summer, chronicling all the stops along Rivera’s final tour. In my opinion, those stories, along with my feature on Rivera’s special day in Denver, will help to make the tribute to Rivera in the 2014 New York Yankees Yearbook a special keepsake.
–Alfred Santasiere III