When Mariano Rivera ran out onto the field for the New York Yankees, opposing teams knew the game was probably already lost.
A devout Christian, Rivera thanked the Lord for his now-Hall-of-Fame career. He had 652 saves in his 19 years as a pitcher. Last week, he became the first person ever unamiously elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, appearing on all 425 ballots.
“It was amazing,” Rivera told reporters during a teleconference with baseball journalists, according to NJ.com. “Amazing. First of all, I thank the Lord for everything that He has allowed me to accomplish and being the first player to be unamious is amazing. Amazing. I just can’t put it into words how I feel.”
Rivera set the major league record with 47 saves and a 0.70 earned run average in the postseason.
Rivera has credited the Lord for giving him the signature cutter that drove so many opponents crazy in the batters box. He used the pitch more than 85 percent of the time, according to one NJ.com report.
“The Lord gave it to me,” Rivera told ESPN in 2013. “Oh, the Lord. Definitely. I didn’t change anything. No grip, no motion, anything. Nothing. The rest is history.”
Rivera also told ESPN that he never worried about how that pitch came about. He never worried that it might disappear.
“Never thought about it,” Rivera said in the ESPN report. “Sometimes, the Lord tests us to see where you are, where your faith is. I never worry about those things. I haven’t been a guy who worries about those things.”
Rivera’s faith was literally on display while he was on the mound. He had “Phil. 4:13” stiched into his baseball glovel, for Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
“I’ve been blessed. You think about it, Mo doesn’t have a big frame. Mo doesn’t have a big breaking ball, Mo doesn’t have different pitches. And yet Mo has done the job all those years. How have I done that?,” Rivera told the Hartford Courant. “I am that person, and I tell you, without God I couldn’t have done it.”