Mariano The Unanimous Hall Of Fame Saver

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

He said after his unanimous Hall of Fame announcement, “I was just happy to be a ballplayer.” And Mariano Rivera was more than happy and rewarded as the first unanimous choice and newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There was never a doubt about that call to the hall that Rivera received. Tuesday night the culmination of a distinguished and record breaking career with the Yankees was inevitable. The all-time saves leader in baseball was instrumental in leading the Yankees to four World Series championships.

Yes, they were good Yankees teams under manager Joe Torre. However, give the ball to Mariano in the final inning and there was never a doubt.  He came to the mound with “Sandman” playing in the background. He got the ball, hitters were intimidated. The cutter could not be stopped and the Yankees got another win.

Perhaps, and this is true in baseball, there will never be another one like Mariano Rivera.  first ballot and unanimous with 652 career saves over a 19-year career and five World Series titles.

“I was fortunate enough to be there from the beginning, when he came sporting a nasty changeup as a starter,” said Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay a Bronx native from Throgs Neck. “I watched the transformation from shy setup man to ultra-confident, unflappable closer. And through it all, his grace and class was more overpowering than his pitches. And that is saying something. It was one of the joys of my professional career to be there from the start to the finish of a remarkable career. He’s always been a Hall of Fame man. Now he’s a Hall of Fame pitcher.”

Rivera finished 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA in 96 appearances with 141 innings pitched in the postseason. The 42 postseason saves may never be duplicated.

Rivera joins designated hitter Edgar Martinez, starting pitchers Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina as the newest inductees who will enshrined up in Cooperstown, New York at annual ceremonies Sunday July 21st.

Mussina spent his playing career with the Baltimore Orioles and finished shy of 300 wins. He pitched the final years of his career with the Yankees. It is uncertain if Mussina will be enshrined as a Yankee or Oriole.

Halladay, a two time Cy Young Award winner passed away a few years ago. The official Hall of Fame Press conference with the newest inductees will take place Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan.

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