NEW YORK — He stood alone, atop the mound, atop a city, atop his profession.
The fans gave him a standing ovation. So did the players, on both teams, from the top step of each dugout.
"It was amazing," Rivera said. "It was a scene I will never forget."
It was his last All-Star act in a game that will never forget him – well, except for the three outs he coolly recorded as soon as everyone sat down. In the last
The victory ended a three-game National League winning streak and delivered
That set an early stage for Rivera, the
"I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive," Leyland said.
So, with the AL leading by a not entirely comfortable margin of 3-0, Leyland gave Rivera the eighth inning. However, in the middle of the eighth inning, Neil Diamond strode onto the field for a live performance of his
For presumably the first and last time in his distinguished career, Rivera had to wait to make his entrance because Diamond was hogging the field.
Rivera cooled his heels in the bullpen. The players cooled their heels in the dugouts. Then, in one of the most jarring musical transitions in human history, Diamond gave way to Metallica.
"Enter Sandman," the trademark Rivera entrance song, blared ominously from the speakers. Rivera jogged toward the mound, all by himself. None of the AL players took the field until Rivera, serenaded by the crowd, climbed the mound and bathed in applause.
The players wanted it that way. They talked about it in the dugout, with Leyland. This was not an orchestrated plan. It was more of a spontaneous reaction to let Rivera have his moment, all by himself.
To the veteran players, the moment echoed the All-Star game in 2001, when
"We're looking at greatness,"
"Cal Ripken was one of those guys. Mariano is one of those guys."
Ripken was regal, and a bit aloof. Rivera gave the AL team a pregame pep talk in which he thanked his teammates for the honor and privilege of playing with them.
Mike Trout, who at 21 is less than half Rivera's age, already has a ball signed by Rivera. The