(NEW YORK) — It was an emotional night for Mariano Rivera as he bid farewell to Yankee Stadium, a place he’s called home for a better part of the past two decades.
Baseball’s all-time saves leader pitched at Yankee Stadium for the final time in New York’s 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night. He entered the game in the eighth inning to a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd and pitched into the top of the ninth.
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Rivera’s longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came to the mound to remove him from the game for the last time. Pettitte is also retiring at the end of the season.
A sobbing Rivera embraced both Pettitte and Jeter on the mound as fans and players alike paid tribute to baseball’s most acclaimed relief pitcher.
“I was bombarded with emotions and feeling that I couldn’t describe,” Rivera said after the game. “Everything hit at that time. I knew that was the last time. Period. I never felt like that before.”
It was a special moment that will go down as one of the greatest in the history of Yankee Stadium. After the game, manager Joe Girardi said he conceived the idea of sending both Pettitte and Jeter to the mound during the eighth inning, and received the go-ahead from crew chief Mike Winters.
“I’ve never seen a player pull another player, so I had to ask. And then one of them was on the DL,” Girardi said. “Then I said, ‘Well, can I send two?’ and they said, ‘Well, go ahead.’ And I really appreciate (that) because I think it made the moment even more special for Mo.”
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