Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Rivera meets Blue Jays staff in Toronto, asked, 'his toughest opponent to strike out? Edgar Martinez...who hit .579 against him.'

8/27/13, "Yankees’ Mariano Rivera takes his farewell tour into a Blue Jays boardroom," John Lott, National Post

"Twenty hand-picked employees of the Toronto Blue Jays, representing an array of departments, sat around tables arranged in a U-shape, awaiting the man who would sit in the office chair in the middle of the boardroom.

He entered to applause, although he wore the uniform of an arch-enemy, the New York Yankees. And for close to an hour, Mariano Rivera answered questions in animated fashion, laughed, spun stories, asked questions of his guests and thanked them for doing important jobs behind the scenes.

This was the latest stop on the Mariano Rivera farewell tour, in which the famed Yankees closer steps into the shadows to visit with the folks who sell tickets, maintain the stadium, work in merchandising, police the crowds and wear a mascot’s outfit, as Markwell Ottolino-Perry has done for eight years. The Blue Jays may lack an ace on the field, but Ottolino-Perry was their Ace at Tuesday’s meeting....

His toughest opponent to strike out? Edgar Martinez, the former Mariners designated hitter, who hit .579 against him. “You throw the ball behind his head and he can still hit it,” Rivera said.

Ottolino-Perry, the Blue Jays’ Ace, wanted to know Rivera’s favourite mascot. Rivera remembered the Seattle Moose, who, during the 1995 division series with the Yankees, broke his ankle when he crashed into the outfield wall in the Kingdome. Moose was wearing inline skates while being towed by an all-terrain vehicle.

How did Rivera get his famed No. 42? Not because he asked for it. When he was first called up in 1995, he was given No. 58. The next year, when he came up to stay, he was handed No. 42. Only later did he realize its significance as Jackie Robinson’s number. Major League Baseball retired the number for all teams in 1997 in honour of Robinson, but allowed those already wearing it to continue to do so. Rivera is the last; when he retires, no one will wear it again."...

8/27/13, "Yankee Doodles from Rogers Centre: Departing Mariano meets Jays' employees, Gibbons will return as manager in 2014," Buffalo News, Mike Harrington. top photo by Mike Harrington. photo below by John Lott

 "The Yankees and Blue Jays meet in the middle game of their three-game series tonight and a lot has gone here this afternoon in Rogers Centre before a pitch has been thrown.

Be sure to read my column in Wednesday's Buffalo News about Mariano Rivera's meet-and-greet Q&A with Blue Jays employees.

Twenty members of the staff, most of them not related to the actual playing of the game, met with Rivera and Yankees PR head Jason Zillo in a third-floor conference room for about 45 minutes talking about baseball, life, his retirement plans and his thoughts on his career.

Rivera is doing this in every city on his farewell tour over his final season as a way to say thank you to all the people who make baseball games possible.

"It is been a privilege for me to be in baseball," Rivera said. "I want to make sure I say thank you to all of those involved. I want to make sure I thank you guys for what you do in baseball, to help us prepare for every day."

I've been at plenty of great games in my career, including some of Rivera's greatest triumphs and greatest failures. This was as riveting as any of them. It was an unvarnished chance to listen to a man who is one of the game's greatest ambassadors.

And he talked about everything: The evolution of the cutter, his toughest hitter to face (Edgar Martinez), his post-retirement plans (fishing and hanging out with his family, perhaps even in his pajamas), and even his favorite mascot (he liked the Mariner Moose).

The most emotional moments were saved for his thoughts on the late George Steinbrenner, particularly how The Boss came up to him after he lost Game Seven of the 2001 World Series in Arizona.

"The first one that came to my locker was the Boss," Rivera said. "He looked at me and I looked straight at his face and I said, 'Boss, I gave my best and my best wasn't good enough tonight.' And he said I know and he hugged me and I hugged him. To me that was George Steinbrenner.

"If there was something I could change, I wish he could be alive so I can say thank you for all he did for me.""Caption for top photo: ""My view of Mariano Rivera and the Blue Jays employees today. Yankees PR head Jason Zillo is moderating to Rivera's left." Mike Harrington. Middle photo, Rivera with 30 year Toronto Blue Jays staffer Sheila Stella, courtesy photo, via Toronto Sun


8/27/13, "Yankees' Mariano Rivera a class act all the way," Toronto Sun, Bob Elliott

"“I’d be running or shagging flies in the outfield, someone would say ‘The Boss wants to see you,’ ” said Rivera. “He’d ask, ‘you OK?’ I say yes. He’d say, ‘I love you,’ I’d say, ‘I love you Boss.’”."


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