Mariano Rivera's exit from the game is going to be a profitable one, as more than 20 licensees have signed up to make roughly 150 retirement items for the New York Yankees closer.
Licensees that will participate in making the Rivera items include Nike, New Era, Rawlings, wall-art company Fathead and coin company Highland Mint. Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports, said he is also making a Rivera commemorative bat that will have some of the players who never got a hit off the closer etched into it.
Steiner is also selling a host of autographed items, including a 20-inch-by-24-inch signed photo with the inscription "Last To Wear #42" ($675), a signed final season baseball in a glass case with Rivera's accomplishments ($450) and a signed and framed "Exit Sandman" subway sign with game-used dirt ($350).
Major League Baseball and Rivera will get a cut of the proceeds from the sale of the items.
"He is widely loved," said Steiner, who has worked with Rivera since 1996 and facilitated the licensing program on the closer's behalf. "For minorities, he is like their Babe Ruth."
Steiner said Rivera is revered not only because he is considered the best closer in baseball history, and has been a lifelong Yankee, but also because he has made himself available to fans.
"Consistency over time equals credibility, and he's the epitome of that," Steiner said. "And he's not a prima donna. He thinks of the game first, his team second and himself last."
Steiner, who also has a memorabilia partnership with the Yankees, said the team will start wearing special Mariano jerseys with his retirement logo patches Sunday and will play with balls with the logo on them. The Yankees on Sunday will wear a special patch on their hats to commemorate Rivera's career. New Era, the cap's manufacturer, says it will be the first time an active player has been honored on a cap like this.
Steiner said his company will get some of the game-used items from Rivera from some of his final appearances, though he notes that Rivera will keep his uniform from his final on-field appearance.
Anyone who buys the items has to hope that Rivera sticks to his word. Despite racking up 44 saves this year and staying relatively healthy, the 43-year-old has insisted that his 19th season with the Yankees will be his final season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, however, has strongly encouraged Rivera to come back and has said he will continue to try to talk to Rivera about his decision in the offseason.