Red Sox bid fond farewell to rival Yankees pitcher

ESPN staff
September 16, 2013
Mariano Rivera is presented with a gift by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz © AP

It's one thing giving your team's own fabled players a massive send-off into retirement, but the Boston Red Sox went further on Sunday night with a ceremony for Mariano Rivera, the star pitcher for bitter rivals the New York Yankees.

Fenway Park came to a standstill for Rivera, who is retiring at the end of this season after a career that has seen him become known as the greatest closer ever to play the game.

The Panama-born pitcher has saved 651 matches, including 58 against Yankees' fiercest rivals the Red Sox, but entered Boston folklore with a blown save in 2004 that helped the Red Sox end their painful 86-year wait for a World Series success.

A pre-match ceremony was held at Fenway in what will be Rivera's last regular season appearance at the stadium, and featured a string quartet rendition of his entrance music - Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'. Then came a light-hearted video montage of that blown save in 2004.

It ended with the presentation of four gifts - a painting of Rivera, the green No. 42 placard used on the Fenway Park scoreboard whenever he pitches, an original seat from the ballpark and a pitching rubber from the bullpen.

Plus, the entire Red Sox team gathered on the infield to shake a beaming Rivera's hand as a congratulatory statement from Red Sox and Liverpool owner John Henry was read over the public-address system: "We tip our cap to the great Rivera, a fierce competitor and a gentleman."

"Great ceremony. Great. Well done," Rivera said after not pitching in a 9-2 Yankees defeat. "Humbling. At the same time, I definitely appreciate what the Red Sox organisation did. I will never forget that."

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