There were some truly special scenes at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night as Mariano Rivera made his final career pitching appearance in the Bronx.
Rivera entered the game with runners on first and second and New York trailing the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 in the top of the eighth. He retired the next two batters to get out of the jam. He then came back out for the ninth for an extra inning of work as he’s done so many times before. He got two outs before being lifted for Matt Daley.
Rivera’s stat line for his final appearance was flawless: 1.1 innings, 0 runs, 0 walks, 0 hits.
Manager Joe Girardi also had a brilliant idea for how Rivera would be pulled from his final home appearance. He had Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, two of the other members of the team’s “Core Four,” come to take the legendary closer out of the game. Jeter could be seen mouthing “time to go” at Rivera as he approached the mound. Pettitte and Rivera embraced first, leading Rivera to begin sobbing in the southpaw’s arms. Rivera continued to cry as he embraced Jeter.
After walking into the dugout where he gave hugs to all his coaches and teammates, Rivera came out for a curtain call.
Pettitte, who is also retiring after the season, later went out to give a curtain call and get an ovation from the fans.
[Also see: All retirement gifts Mariano Rivera received]
Rivera, Pettitte, Jeter, and Jorge Posada all were drafted by the Yankees, came up in the organization together, and made their MLB debuts in 1995. They won five World Series together. Posada retired after the 2011 season, while Rivera and Pettitte are retiring after this season. That leaves Jeter, the youngest of the bunch, as the remaining member of the Core Four. After seeing what happened with Rivera, you can only imagine what it will be like when Jeter hangs it up.