NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Widely acclaimed as the greatest reliever in baseball history, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees has been making a farewell tour in his last season before his announced retirement. When visiting his long-time opponents during road trips, Rivera has been meeting with both the individuals behind the scenes of the teams, and the star players he has struck out over the years, to say his goodbyes.
“I enjoy every bit of it,” he said Monday during All-Star festivities at Citi Field.
With the 43-year-old closer set to pitch in his final All-Star game Tuesday night, a look at five gifts that opposing teams have given the career saves leader:
CRAAACK! Rivera has made a living shattering the bats of opposing hitters, so the Minnesota Twins paid tribute in a most proper fashion: They presented him with a rocking chair built from cracked bats and inscribed it, “Chair of Broken Dreams.” No star was spared, either. Sheared wood once swung by Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau was used. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, All-Star closer Glen Perkins and Morneau gave it to Rivera at Target Field.
WAVE GOODBYE: The Oakland Athletics gave Rivera a surfboard that was trimmed in A’s green and gold, along with his No. 42. The team played his signature “Enter Sandman” at the presentation, and also handed him a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc from Groth Vineyards that had his number and a specially-engraved design. Oh, and Rivera surprised a longtime A’s employee by posing as a pizza delivery man.
FIRST … AND LAST: The crosstown Mets joined New York’s fire department in honoring Rivera’s last regular-season home games against them. Mets CEO Fred Wilpon gave Rivera a mounted fire hose nozzle, and New York City Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano provided a mounted call box. The team then let Rivera throw out a ceremonial first ball to Mets saves leader John Franco. A damper for Rivera, though: He threw the last pitch of the game, giving up an RBI single in the ninth inning that gave the Mets a 2-1 win.
MO-TOWN: When the Yankees visited Detroit, manager Jim Leyland presented Rivera with a plaque showing him pitching at old Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park. The plaque came with a neat touch, too — encased in it were two glass bottles containing dirt from the pitcher’s mound at both ballparks. Leyland is managing the AL team at the All-Star game, and has assured everyone that Rivera will pitch at some point.
HE’S A MONEY PITCHER: Several teams have given donations to the Mariano Rivera Foundation, with former Seattle star Edgar Martinez offering a check from the Mariners Care Foundation when the Yankees came to Safeco Field. In Kansas City, Hall of Famer George Brett and Royals general manager Dayton Moore gave Rivera a donation to the church where his wife, Clara, is the pastor.
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