One of Mariano Rivera's personalized gifts, from the San Diego Padres
New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who announced his retirement prior to the start of the 2013 Major League Baseball season, is enjoying his unique six-month farewell tour of America's ballparks.
Mo has received pregame ceremonies behind home plate at opposing teams' stadiums complete with video tributes, standing ovations, generous checks to his foundation and the gamut of personalized gifts.
Yesterday, Mo visited a local Hispanic Resource Center in a suburb a few miles north of Yankee Stadium to donate a few gifts of his own.
As Ned P. Rauch reported in the Journal News, Mariano and his wife provided school supplies to children in Mamaroneck, New York on Wednesday: "Rivera and his wife, Clara, handed out backpacks and boxes of pens and markers to wide-eyed schoolchildren who posed for pictures with the pitcher before dashing off to try out their new loot."
Mo's humility, compassion, respect and benevolence are traits that have become as synonymous with his name and legacy as his legendary cut fastball—a pitch, which ironically enough, Mariano has described as having come to him by accident one afternoon in 1997 as a "gift from God."
Unlike his famous pitch, however, Mo's philanthropy did not begin by accident while having a catch.
But the arc of 43-year-old Rivera's career is as moving as his cutter. He is a deeply religious man, a father who has never separated his faith from his job—a job he has dutifully performed better and more times than any other in the history of Major League Baseball.
Mariano is not honored in every ballpark because of his athletic abilities. He was not granted an entrance to "Enter Sandman" at Citi Field during this year's All-Star Game or a standing ovation at Fenway Park because of his dominance.
It is because Mo does not just accept gifts. He deserves them, he genuinely appreciates them and he donates his own to the community around him.
The visit on Wednesday, of course, was not a one-time affair. As Rauch explains:
The Riveras founded the Refugio de Esperanza, a Pentecostal church they run out of their home in Purchase [New York], and are in the process of renovating a church in New Rochelle. That building, which is on North Avenue, will become the new home for the Riveras' organization.
Even though the Sandman's 19-year career—much like his 643 saved games—will come to a close, his altruism will continue as long as his legacy.
For now, though, Mo is just taking it all in. "Asked for his thoughts on the season, his last as a player," writes Rauch, "Rivera said, 'I'm loving it.'"