The Mariano Rivera farewell tour is at Fenway Park this weekend, the first of three appearances over the next two months. The appearance is coming on the heels of one of the great All-Star Game moments in recent memory, when Rivera was given a standing ovation by fans and players in the eighth inning of his final All-Star appearance, before sitting down the side in order.
While the moment didn’t come in the ninth inning, it still ranked high in nostalgia, offering a full-circle feeling. Rivera began his career as the game’s premier eighth-inning man, finishing third in the 1996 AL Cy Young voting setting up for Yankees closer John Wetteland in the Yankees first World Series championship team in 18 years.
Rivera will retire at the end of the season as the undisputed greatest closing pitcher who ever lived, and considered by some to be one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived. When he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in five years, he could be the first-ever unanimous choice among voters.
“He is in a class by himself,” said CSNNE.com Red Sox insider Sean McAdam. “When you look at the closers role as sort of being a phenomenon over the last 40 years or so, he is so clearly, statistically the best ever.”
Rivera has allowed just 307 earned runs on 976 hits and 284 walks in 1,255 career innings. He has an all-time high 639 saves, with 42 more in the postseason.