He’s considered the greatest closer of all time in Major League Baseball… And, now Mariano Rivera is also an All-Star MVP.
The 43-year-old Panamanian baseball star, who has played 19 seasons for the New York Yankees, was named the Most Valuable Player at the 84th All-Star Game on Tuesday night, as the American League blanked the National League 3-0.
When Rivera came out of the bullpen to pitch the eighth inning of the game, his AL teammates stayed next to the dugout, leaving Rivera – who will be retiring after this season – on the field alone to soak up the applause from the crowd.
“I was standing right there watching,” said Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “It was pretty cool. I had goosebumps the whole time. I’m sure a lot of people did.”
Rivera tipped his cap to all sides of Citi Field, then started his warmup throws.
He went on to pitch a perfect inning, throwing 16 cutters. Catcher Salvador Perez threw an arm across Rivera’s shoulders as they walked off the field.
The historic moment was part of a nearly flawless performance by 10 American League pitchers in their victory over the National League, which was was held to three hits and a walk.
Rivera won the Ted Williams Award as the game’s most valuable player, the first pitcher to be so honored since Pedro Martinez in 1999. He’s also is the oldest player to win.
“I wanted to come to the game and since this will be my last one, I wanted to enjoy and be able to pitch for the last time in the All-Star Game,” Rivera said. “The rest was indescribable.”
The AL snapped a three-game losing streak in the game. The NL leads the series, 43-39-2.