Mariano Rivera had a way of humbling batters. With his trademark cutter he made even the most experienced hitters look silly at the plate. He did it time after time.
But on Monday, Rivera was honored for a different kind of humility.
Rivera, the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history, World Series Most Valuable Player, and a New York Yankee for all 19 of his professional seasons, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Monday, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Donald Trump.
“Throughout Mariano’s incredible career, he remained a humble man guided by a deep Christian faith that inspires everyone around him that ‘The Lord doesn’t care about wealth or fame or the number of saves somebody has,'” Trump said.
Rivera retired from Major League Baseball in 2013 with the league’s career record for saves: 653. He was also the first inductee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who was unanimously selected.
“And for that, being American, I’m so proud and honored that, coming from a small town — beautiful town, beautiful country called Panama — and live with my family here, and understand the language and everything that we go through, I’m proud to be an American,” Rivera said. “So for that, thank God.”
Up Front Humility
Throughout Mariano’s incredible career, he remained a humble man guided by a deep Christian faith, a faith that he referenced in his hall of fame induction speech by thanking Jesus Christ “for giving me the talent and the blessing and opening doors that I could never close, and no man can close. He has given us a beautiful day today. It’s amazing. So, thank you, Lord, for everything You have done in my life.”
Rivera credited the Lord for giving him the signature cutter that drove so many opponents crazy.
“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 has founded churches abroad in Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and stateside in California and Florida. He opened a Pentecostal church in Panama called Refuge of Hope that his wife pastors.