NEW YORK -- Assuming Mariano Rivera retires at the end of the season, and the Yankees closer has said he intends to, Sunday will mark his final Old-Timers’ Day as an active player.
“I look forward to this day every year,” Rivera told reporters after chatting with several old-timers on the field at Yankee Stadium. “Even last year I was hurt and I was here. I just want to make sure that I see my guys and make sure they’re OK and that everything is going well.
“I make sure that I say hello obviously because you never know what can happen. I like to be there to just chitchat with the guys that I played with, the ones that I saw playing and just have a good time with them.”
Rivera said he doesn’t know if he’ll pitch in next year’s Old-Timers’ Day.
“I don’t make any plans, I haven’t thought about it,” he said.
Rivera said there’s nothing like Old-Timers’ Day.
“When you wear the New York Yankees pinstripes and you come to Yankee Stadium, you’re part of a legacy,” Rivera said. “It means so much to me, and I think the whole world agrees with me. It’s wonderful.”
• Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, participating in his first Old-Timers’ Day, received a loud ovation when he was introduced.
Others receiving huge ovations during intros: Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Don Larsen, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. Berra and Ford, who came in on a golf cart out of center field, sported jerseys over their street clothes. Berra is currently using a cane to get around.
• O’Neill drilled a home run into the right-field seats during batting practice, prompting a loud response from the crowd.
• Derek Jeter bantered with the other old-timers in the dugout.
• Manager Joe Girardi thinks Old-Timers’ Day is a special time.
“I love it. It’s one of my favorite days,” Girardi said. “You see guys start to roll in. I’ve seen Goose, Lou Piniella, Yogi. It’s special what these guys have meant to the Yankees organization and being able to play alongside some of them, its great.”
What’s Girardi’s favorite part of the day?
“I think you like seeing the collection of all the guys,” he said. “I’m not sure of everyone who is coming, there’s always one new guy, in a sense, who has become an Old Timer, and it’s always fun to see. This year, it’s Flash [John Flaherty], also Andy Phillips).”