By Tony Aiello

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Two historic figures in the sports world are now enshrined on the New Rochelle Walk of Fame.

Legendary Yankee Mariano Rivera, the first player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on a unanimous ballot, was at the ceremony held downtown at the Ruby Dee Park library green.

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“To me, New Rochelle is more than a place, it’s a home. It’s a family,” Rivera said.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reports, it felt like a family gathering as New Rochelle honored Rivera with a plaque on the city’s Walk of Fame.

Widely considered the greatest reliever in baseball history, Rivera credits former Yankees clubhouse worker Jose Fosina and his wife Mickie for befriending the rookie from Panama, and introducing him to their hometown.

(credit: CBS2)

“I have to thank God for the Fosina family. They have been there for me, all along to this moment,” Rivera said.

“It’s over 20 years and he’s a great guy. Has not changed, is as humble now as he was back then,” Mickie Fosina said.

Indeed, Rivera says he’s humbled to be inducted alongside football great Fritz Pollard, who lived in New Rochelle for many years.

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Pollard integrated the team at Brown University, and starred as a player-coach in the early NFL until the league effectively banned Blacks between 1933-46.

“I had no one pushing me, telling me I can’t go to that restaurant. I can’t use that bathroom. He went through all that stuff.  But he still conquered a lot,” Rivera said.

Rivera no longer lives in New Rochelle but he returns all the time. He and wife Clara spent $3 million renovating a church, where she now serves as pastor.

The couple now creating a youth center to help local kids reach their potential.

“Helping others and saving peoples lives is the best,” Rivera said.

“Baseball was the means to this end?” Aiello asked.

“Exactly. You said it better than me,” Rivera said.

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Honoring a superstar for his accomplishments, on the field and off.

Tony Aiello