Yankees Closer Mentions God/Lord Fourteen Times During Interview


pinstripes-yankeesGeorge A. King III, The Post’s Yankees beat writer since 1997, sat down with Mariano Rivera last Friday at Rogers Centre in Toronto and chatted with the soon-to-be saves king about his incredible career, faith, family and much more.

New York Post: At what age did you realize you wanted to be a baseball player?

Mariano Rivera:This is a funny thing because I always wanted to be a professional player and play for the New York Yankees but I wasn’t pursuing being a professional. God permitted it to happen. I was 20 years old and pitching and the Yankees came and signed me. Right when I put my feet on the steps at the airport in Tampa, I realized, “You know what, this is for real.” I had never left my country (Panama) before. I said, “You know what. If I am going to be here and leave my country and my family and everybody I left behind, I am going to be the best. That was the day I realized I wanted to give it the best shot that I could.”

NYP:You come to Tampa and had no idea it was going to go this way. Were you homesick?

MR:The first week I was miserable, but everything I do I give my best.

Everything starts with God in my career and it will finish with God.

NYP: How long has God been a big part of your life?

MR: Since I was 20, 21. As an athlete, you know your abilities and I knew my abilities weren’t enough for me to be in the big leagues, never mind what I have accomplished. God took those abilities and made me better.

NYP: Is 600 just a number or is it a testament to longevity and not having serious injuries? Or is it, “This is what my career has become?”

MR: The blessing of the Lord is No. 1 and then you have the longevity. Then you have to throw in resting and taking care of yourself. There is no way, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can expect to play 10 years. It’s a combination of everything.”

NYP: Reggie Jackson said watching Mariano Rivera on the mound looks like death on the cover of GQ. It’s very serious and very calm. Where does that come from?

MR:Ever since I was a little kid, I was competitive. When I am on the mound, it is competition and I have to make it happen. Again, I have to mention the Lord because everything around me begins with the Lord. The Lord’s blessing has gotten me here for all these years. The Lord takes control of everything.

NYP: You raced to the Yankee Stadium mound and kissed the rubber after Aaron Boone’s 2003 ALCS-winning home run. For a guy who doesn’t show much emotion, what caused that?

MR:It was kind of personal. When I saw Boone hit that home run, my only thing was going to the place that I feel connected to. I didn’t care who saw me or if they laughed, I didn’t care about it. I wanted to thank the Lord. He permitted it to happen.

NYP:You have had so much success, World Series rings, All-Star Games and 600 saves. What has the sacrifice been to your family?

MR:Without the support of my family — and even though they are Christians and have to have blessings, you still have to have the support of your family — I don’t see how I would have accomplished any of this. My family has played a big, big, big role.

NYP:When you arrived in spring training in February, you talked about every year it gets harder to leave your family in Westchester. Next year, you will be older. How tough will that be?

MR:Next year will be even tougher, but I have been blessed because my family has supported me all the way. Moving on, they know the end of my career is coming soon.

NYP:When is the end of your career?

MR:I have another year on the contract. After that I don’t know what is going to happen. I will make a decision soon, even before next season is over.

NYP: Do you take games home with you. Big wins, killer losses?

MR: When I don’t do the job, there is a tendency for it to bother me on the way home, but it goes away because I don’t want to take that home.

NYP: Even 2001 in Phoenix?

MR: No, because I did everything in my power to help us. That’s my thing, I check myself. If I put all the effort and I know 100 percent that I did that, then I am OK.

NYP: What do you feel like when you hear Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever, perhaps the best pitcher ever?

MR:I don’t let those things get to my mind. I don’t feel like that. I am not. I am just a guy who is blessed with a tremendous team, a tremendous gift from the Lord and the support of my wife and family.

NYP: Has your family ever asked you about all the summers you have missed being with them?

MR: Yes, my family has approached me on that. We talk as a family and come to an agreement but this is what I love to do and what I know to do. I just want to make sure when I leave this game, I don’t want to have any regrets. We talk about it and we will come to a decision: continue or stop?

NYP: What did Joe Torre making you the closer in 1997, even though you had very little experience doing that, feel like?

MR: What made that happen was the 1996 season. I remember at the beginning of the year I was a long reliever. But everything fell into place. As a long reliever, it is hard for the manager to see you. Everything that has happened around me, God permitted. The more I pitched as a long reliever, I pitched good. That allowed me to become the set-up man. That was the key.

NYP: Did you have doubt that you could close games?

MR: The first month as a closer was hard. I was trying so hard to do the job that it was impossible for me to do it. I remember Joe calling me into his office and he said, “It doesn’t matter what happens, you will be my closer.” I mean you know and I know and everybody knows this, if I didn’t do my job, I wouldn’t be the closer. But I took those words as so encouraging that it was different. I had 43 saves that year.

NYP: You left Panama at 20 and have been in New York a long time. Are you a New Yorker?

MR: I have to be honest, I wouldn’t say I am a New Yorker. I will always be a Panamanian. My roots and my family are in Panama. But I consider myself a New Yorker because New York has given me so many opportunities.

The people have taken me as one of them. I have been blessed that the city of New York has provided so much for (me) but I can’t change my roots.

NYP: Whenever you are done, what are you going to do?

MR: We have a lot of jobs to do with the church. That takes a lot from you. You have to want to do that and I want to do that.

NYP: Are you a demanding parent?

MR: I would say yes in all the ways. I demand my kids be respectful, responsible and grateful. And they have to love the Lord with all their hearts. I am not a father who wants to give his kids everything. They have to earn it.

{NY Post/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Um you do realize that to this guy “God” is yoshke, right? what his religion terms “lord” lehavdil is the Ribono shel olam. (I dont have those reversed, though to be fair he may not know that) At any rate why do we care that he thanks his deity

  2. wow!!! what a maimin!!! what a tremendous mussar lesson! he is a font of emunah and bitachon. he says that he only does his hishtadlus on the mound and lets the oibishter take care of the rest! even when people were drowning in his swimming pool, he never lost his hoicher madregah in bitachon!
    rabbi rivera is a tzadik hador!

  3. Closers in baseball, are the most overrated position of any sport! Wow, they held a lead! Big deal! That’s what they get paid to do!

    As far as G-d is concerned, they only believe when they win! Do you ever hear an athlete talk about G-d in the losing locker room?

  4. yankees are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo bad! their palyers are so old

  5. What’s with all the bashers? And when did we get frummer than Ben Zoma? Let’s take a lesson from someone who clearly doesn’t have the “kochi v’otzem yadi” attitude that is unfortunately all too prevalent in our communities.

  6. Lemaasa he is a clutch closer – best of all times. He was always very inspiring. Yasher koach to matzav for posting this choshuva mussar haskel. Let’s hope the new year will bring #28.

    Shana Tova!

  7. it might not be so relevant to you which God he prays to but it is important.
    Te Baal Shem Tov wanted to use a certain wagon driver. However when they passed by a church the driver did not cross himself. The Baal Shem Tov said, Let us get off the wagon. We cannot trust a man that has no God.
    And that was in the days when the Christians were not the most friendly neighbors.

  8. Obviously, he’s not a frum Jew but is it better listening to shkutzim talking about their filthy lives and the aveiros they do? Give credit where credit is due. Since baseball players are role models, it’s best to have one who has some musagim of right and wrong, morality, responsibility, ethics and G-d.