Mariano Rivera ‘closes’ Baseball Hall of Fame inductions
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The chants began even before baseball’s greatest closer stood to make his speech.
“Mariano! Mariano! Mariano!”
The former New York Yankees reliever paused and smiled.
“I don’t understand why I have to always be the last,” Mariano Rivera joked at his Hall of Fame induction Sunday. “I guess being the last one is special.”
Rivera and fellow closer Lee Smith, starters Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay and designated hitters Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines were feted on a sun-splashed day in Cooperstown. Taking the podium last as he had predicted, Rivera delivered a speech that included a brief thank you to his native Panama and the fans there.
“You’re special for me,” Rivera said. “Thank you for your help. Latin American fans, thank you. Thank you for loving me. I’m so humbled and blessed to receive this incredible honor. God bless you all.”
The career saves leader with 652, Rivera was the first unanimous Hall of Fame pick by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He pitched 19 seasons in the major leagues, all with the Yankees, and retired with 952 games finished — also a record.
Halladay’s widow, Brandy, fought back tears as she spoke. Halladay, who went 203-105 and won two Cy Young awards, was 40 when he was killed in a plane crash in November 2017.
Smith pitched 18 seasons for the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds and Expos and retired as MLB’s career saves leader with 478, a title he held for 13 seasons. That total ranks third all-time, as do his 802 games finished.
Martinez was a seven-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner for Seattle, where he spent his entire 18-year career. Martinez delivered the first part of his speech in Spanish before congratulating the other five inductees.
Baines, like Martinez, made his mark as a DH. He is a career .289 hitter with 384 homers and 1,299 RBIs.
Mussina pitched for 18 major league seasons and spent his entire career in the high-scoring AL East with the Orioles and Yankees. A five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner, he posted a record of 270-153 and had 57 complete games in 536 starts. He was the first AL pitcher to win at least 10 games 17 times.
The late Frank Robinson and Willie McCovey were honored with a moment of silence before Mussina was introduced. The two Hall of Famers died since last year’s induction ceremony.