CHICAGO -- The latest gifts on the Mariano Rivera retirement tour were a pair of items for the game room.
The Chicago White Sox offered the future Hall of Famer a framed copy of the scorecard from his first start at U.S. Cellular Field in 1995, and a framed collage of photos from the Yankees' return to the field following the suspension of play because of 9/11. The Yankees’ first three games back were in Chicago.
Rivera also continued his practice of meeting with opposing stadium workers, team employees and fans. Tuesday’s meet and greet included the U.S. Cellular Field chef, a Chicago-area caterer who grew up near Yankee Stadium and a member of the Air Force who was burned over 90 percent of his body in an explosion in Afghanistan.
“There are wonderful stories of wonderful people,” Rivera said. “I’m glad that I did it. It reminds me of how many great fans there are and good people there are. I’ve been blessed.”
Rivera has been soaking in the adulation all around Chicago over the past few days and was asked yet again if all of the appreciation from fans, as well as his success this season, might get him to postpone retirement.
“I’ve been asked many, many, many times and I wish it’s the last one but it won’t be,” he said. “But no, no, it’s no going back. This is it. Thank God for this. He has keeping me healthy and safe. I’m happy for that and I’m enjoying this season as much as I can and no, I’m not going back.”
Even before receiving the gift of the framed scorecard, Rivera called his July 4, 1995, start in Chicago a memorable moment against the White Sox. He allowed just two hits and no runs over eight innings, while picking up his second career victory.
It was the start of a career that would eventually lead to a role in the bullpen and an upcoming trip to Cooperstown. That he has been able to do it all in a Yankees uniform hasn’t been lost on the right-hander.
“For me when you say you’re with the Yankees, it’s a privilege and an honor so every chance I have to be on the field with this uniform is a blessing,” Rivera said. “It’s been big for me.”