By Sweeny Murti
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“That’s why I love to do this. Because I get a lot of these things that are motivating.”
Mariano Rivera began his farewell tour meet-and-greets in each city with the idea of saying thank you to special fans all around the league. As it turns out, Mariano appears to be thanking them for their inspirational—and at times heartbreaking—stories.
Saturday in Kansas City, Rivera met a special group of people, and was genuinely touched by all of them.
Ryan Bresette, from nearby Overland Park, was a Royals bat boy and clubhouse attendant for 15 years. In March, a freak accident claimed the life of his 10-year old son Luke. A 300-pound sign at the Birmingham, AL airport fell on top of Luke, his mother, and two of his brothers. Heather Bresette suffered two broken legs and a fractured pelvis, and was still in a wheelchair when she met Mariano at Kauffman Stadium. Eight-year old Sam suffered a broken leg and five-year old Tyler sustained a concussion. Both were there Saturday to meet Mariano, as was older brother Joe, who was not injured.
Rickey Hernandez is a 17-year old wheelchair bound baseball fan who, with help from The Dream Factory, built a baseball field in his backyard for kids with disabilities. It is now the home of the Olathe Miracle League.
Jonas Borchert is a 15-year old battling Ewing’s Sarcoma. Jonas plays baseball and would pitch between cancer treatments, lying on the dugout bench between innings and telling his coach to let him go out for one more inning, which he did.
Others that get the opportunity to meet Mariano are war veterans, or long-time stadium workers, or other area people with a deep connection to their community.
All of these people have already made an impact on The Greatest Closer of All-Time, who thinks every player should get the opportunity to meet the kinds of people that he is meeting: