Yankee class? It doesn't get much better

BOSTON -- One forty-five a.m. on Yawkey Way, a raw wind blowing hot-dog wrappers and empty beer cups as the last of the night's shivering fans made their way home after nearly 9 1/2 hours of baseball at Fenway.

There, a startling sight: A small circle of people surrounding a ballplayer signing autographs, even as friends urged him to a waiting car.

The ballplayer? Mariano Rivera, the elegant Yankee closer and eternally gracious human being. A passer-by could only shake his head and smile at the wonder of it all.