Mariano Rivera Honored in Houston

September 29, 2013 – On the final day Mariano Rivera will wear a Yankees uniform as a player, the Houston Astros honored him in a pre-game ceremony.

In the ceremony, which took place on the infield grass of Minute Maid Park, former Yankees manager Joe Torre and seven-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Roger Clemens spoke about Rivera.

Torre’s speech was spectacular. While he was at the podium, the skipper not only spoke about Rivera’s talent but also about the type of teammate he was.

“When a player from the minor leagues or from another ballclub came into our clubhouse for the first time, you would see Mariano at their locker,” Torre said. “He helped a countless number of players to get acclimated, and really whenever someone was in need of any kind of help, Mariano was there. That was so important to our success. Sometimes people forget that baseball is played by human beings, and you need people like Mariano on every team. Every player who played with Mariano has been touched.”

Clemens’ salute to Rivera was also poignant.

“You’re an incredible person and teammate,” Clemens said. “Nobody wants to see you go. We’re going to miss that cool jog you made from centerfield. Nothing in this world is a sure thing, but as a starting pitcher, when I’d see you come into the game, I knew that was as close as you can get.”

After Torre and Clemens spoke, Rivera address the crowd with candor and humility.

“I want to apologize to the Houston Astros organization, to the players and to the great fans here,” Rivera began. “I’m sorry that I’m not going to compete against you in this series. I wanted to leave with the game I played on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. I want to keep that memory.”

As I wrote on this blog yesterday, I believe Rivera made the right decision by sitting out the Houston series. He didn’t have to apologize, but the kind message he offered to the Astros team and fan base was a classy touch.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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