PANAMA CITY -- To the rhythm of thousands of vuvuzuelas, fans at Rod Carew National Stadium received the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins with a Panamanian-style welcome on Saturday night, as both teams visited Panama City for the first Major League Baseball games since 1947.
And to the tune or "Enter Sandman," former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera entered through the doors in center field to a rousing standing ovation before the game.
"When the Panamanian people were singing the national anthem and I was standing in the outfield, a dream that I hadn't been able to celebrate in my life was fulfilled," said Rivera, a proud Panama native, after throwing out the first pitch.
"It was something incredible and experiencing it in a sold-out stadium with everyone on their feet and that ovation, it's priceless."
David Robertson had the honor of serving as Rivera's catcher for the ceremonial first pitch.
"I wanted to do it so that it could serve as a transfer to my successor ... I handed my legacy," Rivera said. "It was like passing the torch, and we expect that he will do a good job with what's being entrusted to him.
"Everything has a beginning and an end and now here we end the story at home. It has come full circle today and what was supposed to happen was fulfilled and now it has been sealed because it was at home and there's nothing better than that in your own home. I'm Panamanian and as a Panamanian you wish and it's in your blood to be part of this and that's how it was fulfilled."
For Robertson it was an unforgettable experience to be in Panama, where Rivera is an idol.
"It's obvious that everyone was excited to see Mariano and being his catcher for the first pitch was incredible. Not everyone in the world can say they've done that," the 28-year-old closer said.
"I think it was something like passing the torch being that things are lining up in that manner, but I still haven't pitched in a regular season game so it will be interesting."
The Bronx Bombers couldn't extend the pregame ceremony's grandeur to the ballgame itself, as four Marlins pitchers, led by starter Brad Hand and relievers Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos and Arquimedes Caminero, combined to no-hit the Yankees, 5-0. Even though it was an exhibition game, Joe Girardi was a little chagrined. "The ceremony was incredible and I'm sure it was very special for Mo, but it wasn't the type of historic night we expected," Girardi said. "It takes a little bit away from the event because we obviously would have like to have [gotten] some hits and runs but the Marlins pitched excellently and it doesn't matter what game is played and at what level, you never want to leave without getting hits."