Each year, the voting for Major League Baseball’s next Hall of Fame class fosters heated and exhaustive debate regarding who is deserving of enshrinement. The only differing of opinion and drama pertaining to Mariano Rivera’s selection last January before it was publicly revealed was would he become the first player in MLB history to be a
The answer was a resounding yes, as Rivera appeared on all 425 ballots cast by voters of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. This past Sunday, July 21, in Cooperstown, N.Y., home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the former Yankees closer, the greatest relief pitcher of all-time, was ceremoniously inducted along with fellow closer Lee Smith, the late pitcher Roy Halladay, pitcher Mike Mussina, Rivera’s past Yankees teammate, Edgar Martinez, arguably the best designated hitter ever, and erstwhile outfielder/DH Harold Baines.
Rivera was the consummate security blanket for his team and the legion of Yankees fans. Spending his entire career with the franchise after being signed as a thin, 155 pound, light throwing prospect out of Panama in February 1990, Rivera grew into a rock of five World Series titles and seven American League pennants won by the team from 1996 through 2009.
Making his MLB debut on May 23, 1995, the 13-time All-Star retired at the conclusion of the 2013 season with the lowest ERA (0.70) and most saves (42) in postseason history. Overall, the 49-year-old righty was 82-60 with a 2.21 ERA, complied 1,173 strikeouts and amassed 652 saves, No. 1 among all relievers.
“First of all, I don’t understand why I always have to be the last,” Rivera joked to begin his address to the adoring Cooperstown crowd. “I guess being the last one was special.” Indeed he was the final speaker among the 2019 Hall of Fame class. Brandy Halladay spoke for her late husband Roy Hallady, who died in November 2017 at the age of 40 when the aircraft he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of
New Port Richey, Florida.
“I was just happy to pitch in the big leagues and play for the New York Yankees,” said Rivera. “After my career, I was thinking, did I have a good shot to be a Hall of Famer? This was just beyond my imagination. This is the pinnacle of every athlete or every player that played the game of baseball. Just to be considered a Hall of Famer is an honor, but being unanimous is just amazing to me.”