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Not a Dry Eye in the Bronx: An Emotional Goodbye for Mo

Why even this die-hard Red Sox fan had to fight back tears at the way Mariano Rivera was bid goodbye in his final home game appearance as a Yankee.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Red Sox fan, a Mets fan, or the fan of any team that’s suffered under the machinations of baseball’s most successful franchise. If you care at all about baseball, you couldn’t help but get a little choked up at the scene which unfolded last night at Yankee Stadium.

With two outs in the top of the 9th, after retiring 4 batters in succession in typical fashion, the greatest closer in the history of baseball—Mariano Rivera—stood on the mound and watched as the call came from the dugout to remove him from the game—his last home appearance before retiring after 19 record setting seasons. But in a move that was at once classy and unprecedented, Yankees manager Joe Girardi first consulted with umpires who gave him the green light, and instead of walking to the hill himself to take the ball from Mo…sent out teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter—who has been a teammate of Rivera’s since they were both rookies in 1995… to relieve the reliever of his duties one last time at home. Jeter appeared to say “It’s time to go”, and Rivera, the game’s all-time saves leader and first-ballot Hall of Fame lock—fell into the arms first of Pettitte, who’s also calling it quits this year—and then Jeter, and wept openly before 40,000 plus fans who stood and applauded and did the same.

Hard to find a dry eye in the house last night, and this was one of those golden moments when even the most cynical among us could not dismiss the game as a business. It was instead an example of how sport can stand as a symbol for the best of what makes us human.

(This commentary appeared this morning on the VPR Sports Report.)