WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork)Yankees legend Mariano Rivera was honored Monday afternoon at the White House.

The former relief pitcher was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It’s been a good year for 49-year-old Rivera. Earlier this year, the five-time World Series winner became the first player to ever be unanimously inducted into the national Baseball Hall of Fame.

“There’s a big argument — is he the greatest pitcher or the greatest reliever?” President Donald Trump said.

It was clearly a moment the president relished.

“Mariano broke the Major League record for the most games finished and saves made,” Trump said.

Clearly a basball fan, the president was impressed by the 13-time All Star and baseball’s all-time saves leader’s stats.

“In 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series championships, Mariano closed out three consecutive World Series victories and delivered 14 strikeouts and seven saves,” Trump said.

Rivera was also recognized for his community service and his Mariano Rivera Foundation.

“All I do is try to do the best and do the best for America,” Rivera said.

Rivera recounted his struggle to learn English from his teammates.

“I said, I don’t care how much you laugh. I don’t care how much you make fun of me, but please. I give you permission to laugh and to do that, but teach me,” he said.

Rivera said learning English was a turning point for him, and after 19 seasons in pinstripes, he’s closing yet another chapter on his storied career.

“He is the most dominant relief pitcher in the history of baseball and more than that, he has lived the American dream and shines as an example of American greatness for all to see,” Trump said.

Rivera isn’t the only athlete to receive the award this year.

Trump honored golf superstar Tiger Woods at the White House in May.


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