Rivera And The New Hall Of Fame Class

By Jason Gonzalez 

New baseball Hall Of Fame inductees Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, and Edgar Martinez took center stage at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan to announce the achievement. The trio expressed elation regarding their induction up in Cooperstown New York as part of Hall of Fame weekend and ceremonies on July 21. Rivera, Mussina, and Martinez were also joined by the family of the late Roy Halladay.

Halladay, an ace in both the American and National league [Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies] lost his life in a plane crash nearly two years ago. Halladay was posthumously voted in by the Baseball Writers Association. 

Rivera, the legendary closer of the New York Yankees became the first player to enter the Hall Of Fame with 100% of the votes. It is the highest induction rate since the existence of the Hall of Fame. Rivera has now surpassed Ken Griffey Jr.’s mark of 99.3% from three years ago.

Credit: Jason Gonzalez

Rivera, a 13-time all-star, set the major league record for saves with 652. The native of Panama was also one of the pillars of the Yankees dynasty that won four championships in five years [1996-2000]. Rivera ultimately captured his last ring nine years later. In 1999 Rivera won the World Series MVP. 

 With all of his accomplishments, Rivera has distanced himself from fellow country mates Rod Carew a Hall Of Fame inductee and possibly Roberto Duran a boxing Hall of Fame inductee. It might be a valid claim to suggest that Rivera is the greatest Panamanian athlete of all time. He certainly is the most successful.  

 “No, Duran and ‘Ro’ [Rod Carew] were leaders,” Rivera emphatically stated. “They are the official sports leaders of Panama. They opened the doors for me. They are better than me. They are legends, I can’t say that I am better than them or anyone else for that matter.” 

 Both Rivera and Mussina were teammates for eight years. Mussina started his career as a Baltimore Oriole, however, he did achieve success wearing pinstripes. Even though he didn’t win a world series title as a Yankee, Mussina did win 15 games or more, [one 20-win season], in five of his eight seasons in the Bronx.

Mussina was a consistent grinder, and he adjusted well on the mound. It may be inferred that Mussina’s efforts on the field may have been overshadowed due to competing against the likes of Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux. 

“No, I don’t think so,” Mussina disagreed. “I have always wanted to pitch against the best. That is a great list, I mean those guys [Martinez, Johnson, and Maddux] were great. I really and truly enjoyed pitching against them. You are never going to know how good you really are until you face the best.”  

As we transition from the mound to the batter’s box, the time has finally come for the designated-hitting extraordinaire out of Puerto Rico to get his just due. Martinez, who played his entire career with Seattle Mariners was on the ballot for the 10th time. A lifetime .312 hitter with over 2,200 hits and over 300 homeruns, Martinez’s legacy had been solidified. As remarkable as Martinez was at the plate, it’s even more shocking it took this long for him to be recognized by Major League Baseball. 

During Martinez’s playing days, his name became synonymous with “The Double” he hit in the 1995 division series against the Yankees to ultimately win the series 3-2. Then in post-retirement, the narrative surrounding his career revolved around getting snubbed by the Hall Of Fame.

Now that everything has come full circle, how will Martinez’s career be remembered now?  

“I think for me, I just got the best out of my ability,” said Martinez. “I came with the best intention to win every game every night we played. I came with the best intention to compete every night.” 

From the batter’s box we make one last pit stop at the pitcher’s mound. Halladay’s accomplishments include being an eight-time all-star, winning the Cy Young award in both leagues [A.L. 2003 & N.L. 2010] also, Halladay racked up 67 complete games and 20 shutouts. Halladay’s milestones include pitching a perfect game [2010] and a no-hitter in the playoffs in the same season. 

There is an adage that suggests that time heals all wounds. Considering the honor that Major League Baseball has bestowed upon Halladay, both ideas together, can potentially provide the Halladay family an opportunity to move forward psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

“It’s amazing that Roy is being honored, and we thank Major League Baseball for it,” said Brandy Halladay, the widow of Roy, with her children Branden and Ryan standing beside her. “I don’t believe that time heals all wounds. I have heard that from a lot of people in the past. I just feel that time gives you an opportunity to deal with things better. But you never heal, you never forget, you never stop loving someone. But collectively we are getting better each day. But through it all we are doing well.”      

 

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