Fenway gives Mo one final standing ovation

September 18 [Wed], 2013, 16:53
Source:mlb.com
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The Red Sox paid tribute to Mariano Rivera's stellar career in an elaborate pregame ceremony on Sunday night at Fenway Park, calling the retiring Yankees closer "a real gentleman, a fierce competitor and a most worthy opponent. "

Baseball's all-time saves leader received an extended standing ovation from the Boston crowd as he was greeted in the center of the infield by the entire Red Sox roster.

"I appreciate that. They respect what you do, " Rivera said before the game. "I have respected the game for my whole career. I guess that's why I'm receiving this. I didn't ask for it, but again, it's great that they're doing this and I appreciate it. "

In what was arguably the most detailed celebration to date of Rivera's accomplishments, Rivera was feted with gifts that acknowledged his many successes and -- this still being the game's most historic rivalry -- one of his most memorable failures.

"If you're a fan of the game, it's just a remarkable career, " Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He has set the standard for all those that occupy the closer's role. "

Following a performance of the national anthem, the Boston Cello Quartet helped introduce Rivera with a string rendition of his famous entry song, Metallica's "Enter Sandman. "

A tongue-in-cheek video tribute followed, with three members of the 2004 "Reverse the Curse" Red Sox -- Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and Dave Roberts -- narrating highlights of Rivera's blown save in Game 4 of that epic American League Championship Series.

The video continued with the 2005 Opening Day ceremonies, when Rivera doffed his cap to the cheering Fenway fans. Rivera watched from the railing of the visiting dugout, then was introduced by announcer Dave O'Brien and received a hug from Boston's David Ortiz.

"I think he's got as much history here as any club that he has it with, because of not only the regular season, but the postseason as well, " Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Ortiz presented Rivera with a painting that depicted a moment from that afternoon in 2005, as Rivera raised both arms to acknowledge a Fenway crowd thanking him for his role in the red Sox's historic comeback the previous October.

"Hey, they won. You know? " Rivera said earlier on Sunday, reflecting on that moment. "We didn't give it to them; I didn't give it to them. They won. "

Dustin Pedroia presented Rivera with the green "42" placard used on the Green Monster for each of Rivera's appearances at Fenway Park, signed by the entire 2013 Red Sox roster. Since Rivera is the last active player to wear No. 42, the sign will never be used again.

Jon Lester unveiled a blue 1934 Fenway Park seat with the No. 42 on it, and Boston closer Koji Uehara offered Rivera the pitching rubber from the visiting bullpen, two more treasures that only begin to touch the respect and admiration that flows in Rivera's direction around the league.

"He's going to be the first 100 percent Hall of Famer, " Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "I think they could change the rule for him and put him in the Hall of Fame next year. They don't have to wait five years. He's that remarkable of a person and a pitcher. "

Red Sox ownership also presented Rivera with a donation to assist Rivera's charitable endeavors in the united states and Panama.

"He's a role model, and I mean that in the greatest sense that i can say it, " Farrell said. "Everyone should look up to him, the way he lives his life. "

Rivera said that he has always loved to come to Fenway Park, relishing the intensity of the rivalry and the passion of the fans on both sides.

"I would say, thank you for the support, " Rivera said. "Even when they come here to boo us, we don't expect anything better than that. We come here to play the game that we love and we come to play hard. The respect that i have gotten, that's what you appreciate. "

Rivera also expressed hope that, with the Yankees fighting to secure a playoff spot, he may yet return to Boston in October.

"Hopefully it's not the last time, " Rivera said. "It's a blessing to be here for so many years. It has been wonderful. ".

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