Since 1932, 323 players, managers, executives and umpires have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. What they all have in common is that none of them, not even Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, or Joe DiMaggio, were elected unanimously.
On Tuesday, that changed. Pitcher Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees became the first player elected unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s a fitting tribute to the man Esquire magazine dubbed “the Hammer of God,” for his achievements on the mound.
Now, even if you don’t like baseball, you should rejoice with Rivera and his family, because while he may have been God’s “hammer” on the field, he was and remains God’s faithful servant both on and off it.
Rivera was what is known as a “closer.” That means he pitches exclusively in those high-pressure situations when the game’s on the line. He’s expected to “close” the door on the other team. It might sound simple, but any baseball fan will tell you few pitchers, even the most talented ones, can stand up to that kind of pressure for very long.
Rivera did it for seventeen seasons. According to Tim Kurkjian of ESPN, the gap between Rivera and whomever is the second-best closer of all-time is greater than the gap at any other position in baseball history.
That’s part of the reason one former player called Rivera “the most beloved Yankee,” which, given the franchise’s storied history, is saying a lot.
But it’s not the only reason. The other part is Mariano Rivera the man. The Esquire profile said that “He is modest and mild. He is neat and quiet, while other closers are not.” He is regarded as the ultimate “team first” player who summed up his job as “I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera