The numbers are staggering: 1,113 appearances, 1,172 strikeouts, 652 saves, a lifetime ERA of 2.21 and a WHIP of 1.00. The legacy is without question. And on Sunday, the sending-off for Mariano Rivera was boisterous and genuine as the New York Yankees paid tribute to the greatest relief pitcher of all time.
Prior to the game against the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees put on quite a show for the future Hall of Famer. One of the worst-kept secrets of the festivities was Metallica's performance of "Enter Sandman," Rivera's entrance music since 1999.
SportsCenter on Instagram teased the appearance:
The team honored him directly on the field, via Jesse Spector of The Sporting News:
The Yankees also used the bases to honor Rivera, as the YES Network on Instagram showed off:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had his own way to honor Rivera, as the Yankees tweeted on their official Twitter account:
Quite the honor.
Of course, gracious as ever, the man himself took the time to greet fans and sign a few autographs. From MLB on Twitter:
As the ceremony began, everyone—even the opposition—wanted to see the honoring of a legend, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times noted:
Jackie Robinson's wife and daughter were also on hand to take in the festivities, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweeted:
Rivera will be the last man to ever wear the jersey No. 42, as Robinson's number was retired while Rivera was an active player. A plaque in honor of Robinson was unveiled in Monument Park, via Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
Here's the plaque, via the YES Network on Twitter:
As you might imagine, there has been no shortage of standing ovations for Rivera. From the Yankees' Twitter feed:
ESPN's Dan Rafael shared this reaction:
As expected, Rivera's number will now be retired with the rest of the Yankees legends, via Bruce Beck of WNBC-TV:
If you don't think this is an emotional day for the fans as well as Rivera, think again. Check out this tweet from Steve Sirica:
Even famous broadcaster Dick Vitale is spreading the Rivera love on this day:
And of course, former teammates and one very famous former manager are on hand to honor the great closer. From the Yankees' official Twitter account:
Here are a few of the legends on hand unveiled in the ceremony, via the YES Network on Instagram:
In one of the coolest moments of the day, Rivera's wife and sons were escorted to the field by a fellow legend, via Feinsand:
As expected, Metallica was on hand to play as Rivera descended upon the mound. Here's the band rocking out and taking a photo with Rivera, via the YES Network on Instagram:
The ceremony and tribute weren't lost on Rivera, per Nightengale:
Finally, Rivera took to the microphone and had some thanks of his own, via Feinsand:
In all, it was a fitting, touching and (with Metallica on hand) rather exciting send-off to a true legend of the game and, on top of that, gentleman of the sport. On this day, all of baseball tips its cap to Rivera, one of the truly special players to ever step on a baseball field.
His devastating cutter will be missed. Well, except by hitters who had to face it in the ninth inning.