New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera has been inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame and solidified himself as one of the greatest closers of all time.
The greatest closer in the history of America’s pastime was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday after becoming the first unanimous selection since the election process began in 1936. Mariano “Mo” Rivera, one of the most beloved Yankees of all time, spent every year of his career in the Bronx and racked up an MLB record 652 saves on his way to receiving every one of the 425 possible HOF votes. The record was previously held by Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016 when he received 99.32% of the votes; however, the two had very different starts to their baseball careers.
Unlike “The Kid,” Mo was not selected first overall in his draft class and was not the son of an MLB star. He grew up in a small fishing village in Panama where he dropped out of school in the ninth grade to work on his father’s fishing boat to help support his family. As he disclosed in his autobiography fittingly titled “The Closer,” Mo grew up with aspirations to one day save up enough money to open his own garage to fix cars. As a teen, Rivera used baseball as a hobby and a pleasant distraction from the hard labor-intensive days spent on the boat.
One day in 1989 his team needed someone to pitch and Mo, a skinny infielder at the time, stepped up and fared so well in his debut that two of his teammates recommended him to an area scout for the Yankees. One year later, after watching him throw just nine pitches, the Yankees signed the right-hander to a measly $2,000 signing bonus relative to the $160,000 Griffey Jr. received upon signing his contract with the Mariners in 1987.
Year after year Rivera’s arsenal of pitches continued to develop until he made his Major League debut as a middle reliever in 1995. The next season, Mo became a dominant set-up man for then closer John Wetteland and helped lead the Yanks to the World Series title in 1996. Before the 1997 season began, Mo campaigned to become the Yankees’ closer and the front office made the decision to let Wetteland walk as a free agent.
That season, the story of Mo began as he recorded the first of his 15 straight seasons with at least 28 saves while posting an ERA under 2.00 in 11 of those 15 years. His career ERA of 2.21 ranks No. 1 among all pitchers who started their careers in the Live Ball Era (post-1919) and his 952 games finished also rank first all-time.
Although his career regular-season stats are some of the best of any pitcher in history, the true legend of Mo was seen in the postseason. In 16 career postseasons, Mo posted an unbelievable 0.70 ERA, fittingly saved 42 games and was named the MVP of the 1999 World Series and the 2003 ALCS.
Many baseball fans around the world will remember the greatest closer of all time for his wipeout cutter that broke bats and the hearts of many opposing fan bases but Yankees fans will also remember him for playing the game the right way and being the best teammate anyone could ask for. So here’s to you Mo, congratulations on your induction in Cooperstown and becoming the first unanimous selection of all time. Exit Light, Enter Night.