Inspirational Story on Mariano Rivera — in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine

By Alfred Santasiere III

October 2, 2015 — On September 3, I covered a special story in Scranton, Pennsylvania that centered around Mariano Rivera.

That night, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, honored Rivera at their ballpark. But prior to those festivities, Rivera inspired two distinct groups of people, the first of which was the highlight of the day.

At about 4:30 pm, an SUV pulled into the driveway of Temple Hesed in Scranton, where the NativityMiguel School is housed. Rivera jumped out of the vehicle and walked into the ground floor of the building. There, on the first day of the school year — and the first day of classes ever for the school — the 16-person student body beamed as Rivera walked into their classroom.

NativityMiguel is a tuition-free, Catholic school, which provides private education to fifth graders from low-income families, and the Scranton chapter is one of 64 in North America.

Once Rivera got to the front of the classroom, the students walked up to him and introduced themselves. A few minutes later, Rivera addressed the group and then each student asked the former closer a question.

“Were you ever nervous when you went into a game?” a child asked, as he read the question off of a post-it note.

“Yeah, I was nervous,” Rivera answered. “Being nervous is OK. It’s part of being human. Don’t ever think that there is anything wrong with being nervous. The problem is when you are nervous when you are actually working or taking a test. I was nervous before I went into games, but once I went out to the mound, I was not nervous. I was in control.”

After the Q&A, the group moved to another room, where 16 RailRiders jerseys were hanging from a bookshelf. The jerseys had each of the children’s last name and Rivera’s №42 stitched across their backs.

Rivera’s 30-minute visit to the school concluded a few minutes later, as he was quickly whisked back to PNC Field. Before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, the future Hall of Famer delivered a moving speech to a RailRiders team that would clinch the International League’s North Division.

“What you guys do is amazing,” Rivera told the players from the middle of the home clubhouse. “Only a handful of people in the world can do what you do. But this is only the beginning. This is not it. I hope you guys don’t want to stay here. Playing in the majors is incredible. That’s where you really get to shine.”

For the entire story, including some exclusive quotes from my interview with Rivera later that evening, pick up a copy of the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.

— Alfred Santasiere III

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