COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Mariano Rivera has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Taking the podium last as he predicted, the former New York Yankees star reliever had to wait for the chants of his name to stop before he began a speech that included a brief thank you to his native Panama and the fans there.
“You’re special for me,” said Rivera, the all-time saves leader with 652. “Thank you for your help. Latin American fans, thank you. Thank you for loving me. I’m so humbled and blessed to receive this incredible honor. God bless you all.”
Part of a core with shortstop Derek Jeter, left-hander Andy Pettitte and catcher Jorge Posada, all of whom were in the audience, Rivera helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles from 1996-2009. He posted 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA over 16 postseasons, including 11 saves in the World Series.
Rivera, the first unanimous pick by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, pitched 19 seasons in the big leagues, all with the Yankees, retiring with 952 games finished, also a record. A 13-time All-Star, Rivera helped the Yankees win five World Series titles and seven American League pennants. He led the AL in saves three times and finished with 40 or more saves nine times, a record he shares with Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman.
Rivera, who joins Rod Carew as the only Panama natives in the Hall of Fame, left home at age 20 in 1990 not knowing what lay ahead.
“I don’t know what I was expecting, but God guided me through,” Rivera said.
Among those he thanked were his parents, his wife, Marla, and their four children, the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and former Yankees manager Joe Torre, who made Rivera his closer in 1997.
“That’s what I wanted to hear and my career took off,” Rivera said.
Mike Mussina inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
Mussina, a right-hander who starred in college for Stanford, pitched for 18 major league seasons and spent his entire career in the high-scoring AL East with the Orioles and Yankees. A five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner, he posted a record of 270-153, pitching 3,362 2/3 innings with 2,813 strikeouts, 785 walks and an ERA of 3.68. He also had 57 complete games in 536 starts and was the first AL pitcher to win at least 10 games 17 times.
Mussina thanked his wife and family, his mom, dad and brother Mark and the coaches who guided his career through the years.
“I spent a lot of time reflecting on my time in baseball,” said Mussina, the oldest first-time 20-game winner in MLB history when he reached the milestone at age 39 in 2008, his final season in the majors. “I was never fortunate to win a Cy Young Award or be a World Series champion, win 300 games or strike out 3,000 hitters. My opportunities for those achievements are in the past. Today, I get to become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. This time I made it.”
The late Frank Robinson and Willie McCovey were honored with a moment of silence before Mussina was introduced. The two Hall of Famers died since last year’s induction ceremony.