Special Meeting with Mo

September 27, 2013 – There will never be another Mariano Rivera.

In addition to the way Rivera has dominated the competition for nearly two decades, the manner in which he has carried himself off the field is unlike that of just about anyone else in sports.

A perfect example of that occurred at Yankee Stadium yesterday. Rivera met with a group of Yankees employees in the Stadium’s press conference room. Members of the front office who have been with the organization for 10 or more years were invited to be part of the special gathering. Never before did I feel so lucky to have been with the team for more than a decade than when I found out I would have the opportunity to spend a half hour with one of the all-time greatest Yankees shortly before his final game in New York.

I’ve covered similar get togethers, which Rivera has held in ballparks throughout the county this year. But this meeting had special meaning to the closer.

“This is a lot different,” Rivera said a few seconds after he walked into the room to a standing ovation. “You’re my family.”

Then, Rivera passionately thanked the group of about 30 employees.

“When I first came here from Panama, it wasn’t easy,” Rivera said. “But, starting with the Boss, people at every level of the organization have always supported me and my family. When I look at the people in this room, I feel blessed to have been a Yankee. You made my job easy.”

When it was time for members of the group to join in the discussion, senior vice president/chief security officer Sonny Hight gave Rivera a compliment that resonated with me.

“I respect you for what you’ve accomplished on the field,” Hight began. “But the thing I respect most about you is the way you love your family and the way they love you. I’ve been around you and your family at your home, and to see you all together is a beautiful thing.”

Hight is right. Seeing Rivera with his family is a beautiful thing. And, to see an athlete of Rivera’s stature taking hour after hour throughout his final season to personally thank ballpark employees in every city is also a beautiful thing. It’s one of the ways that Rivera has separated himself from the pack.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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