Clutch Save for Mo
August 19, 2013 – As I’ve written about on this blog, there will be a commemorative section on Mariano Rivera in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine.
The section will include a retrospective on Rivera’s career in pinstripes, a photo essay dedicated to the greatest closer of all time and a Q&A with Rivera and Cal Ripken, Jr.
The 42-page layout will also include a story that I wrote about one of Rivera’s greatest saves off the field.
Since 2011, Rivera and his wife, Clara, have spearheaded a $3 million renovation of a church in New Rochelle, New York. The church, which is located in the town that the couple lived in during the late 1990s, was originally built in 1891 and served as a house of worship for nearly a century. But, in the mid-1980s, the then Presbyterian church encountered a decrease in parishioners and was forced to close its doors.
For the last 20 years, the church was used by the New Rochelle Police Department as a storage facility. That was until Rivera and long-time Yankees tailor Joe Fosina (who is a close friend of Rivera and a former city council member in New Rochelle) approached city officials about the church.
“The building was old and strong,” Rivera told me during my visit to the church last week. “The interior was beat-up, but I didn’t see it like that. I saw the beauty of the church and what we could do in this church for the community.”
After many discussions, New Rochelle officials agreed to sell the church to Rivera for a $1, if he were to fund the renovation project. In addition to donating more than $1 million of his own money — through the Mariano Rivera Foundation — Rivera raised millions of dollars to restore the beautiful stone building.
Rivera also added three rooms to the original building. Those new rooms will be used as a learning center for children, and they will also house food and clothes drives.
The Pentecostal church is expected to open its doors in October, and Rivera’s wife Clara will serve as the pastor.
“Clara is excited,” Rivera said. “She knows that it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a wonderful thing to do for the community.”
For Rivera, the church in New Rochelle is not the first house of worship he built. Since his career began, Rivera has built churches in his native Panama, as well as in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Rivera has also made annual donations of between $500,000 and $1 million to benefit underprivileged children in Panama.
Through my interview with Rivera about the church and from spending a morning inside the building with him, I learned that the closer is as proud of this project as any accomplishment he’s had on the field. I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
–Alfred Santasiere III