Mariano Rivera Has Gate 42 At JFK Dedicated To Him Prior To Hall Of Fame Induction

Jake Brown
July 16, 2019 - 2:49 pm

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Mariano Rivera has had a career that has reached sky-high levels. The most saves in MLB history. Five World Series titles. A 13-time All-Star. His number retired in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. A place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The list never ends.

On Tuesday, he reached a new level of sky-high. 

Rivera was honored by Delta Air Lines at JFK Airport, where Gate 42 was named the "Mariano Rivera Gate." (His jersey number, of course, was 42.) Rivera had a 757 aircraft dedicated to him as well. It was a pretty special moment for a guy who has had some iconic ones over the course of a Hall of Fame career.

"I don't think there are words to put something like that in perspective," Rivera said at his new gate Tuesday morning. "It is important to me. That tells you how much respect you got from others, especially when you have a company like Delta Airlines to give you that kind of respect and honor you at events like this. ... It makes me happy. I never did things to receive things like that. This is adding to the cake. I'm humbled to receive this. Not too many people have the opportunity to have a gate in one of the biggest airports in the United States, JFK." 

Sunday will wrap up what has been a whirlwind ride for Rivera, who saved 652 games in his illustrious career, as he'll get to make his Hall of Fame induction speech in Cooperstown, New York, in front of a large crowd and TV audience. 

"I've been so busy since they announced it. It's going to be nice," Rivera said. "It's mind-boggling. So many feelings. I can't wait to be there Sunday to finally get this thing over with. It's getting a lot of me. I am going to be extremely happy to speak to all those thousands and thousands of people that will be present. It's going to be nice. I can't wait. I'm just going to soak in every moment of it." 

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Rivera is the only player in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame to be elected by unanimous vote.

"I'm just happy and humbled that I'm one of the boys," Rivera said. "That's a privilege and prestigious group of people. It is crazy. I don't know how to react. I accept it. I won't be better because I have been the only one. We just continue moving forward and wish somebody else will get it, too." 

The former starting pitcher struggled in 1995 when he got to the big leagues with the Yankees. He started 10 games, and it was the worst season of his career, as he posted a 5.51 ERA. Could he have ever foreseen going from a failed starter to the sport's best closer?

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"If I tell you yes, I'd be lying," he said. "I couldn't have seen this. I was just happy to be in the big leagues. I was just fighting to be in the big leagues." 

Rivera comes from Panama and was poor as a kid. He had a message for those who come from nothing and are tying to make it.

"You don't have to have much," the Yankees legend said. "I didn't have basically anything, but I (had) my glove, my baseball, my bat. When people tell you no, there is someone that will count on you. They will believe in you. They will trust you. They will give anything to put you on the right track. I'm a testimony of that. Go for it." 

The 49-year-old Rivera has been regarded highly around the league, helping those players who come to him and ask for advice. He is respected by many across the game.

"I want everyone to be successful," he said. "I want everyone to do good. If it takes from me to do something or help them do something, I will. Even though that will be the opposite team, I did it. I did it for so many years. That's the thing I wanted to have that when I'm gone, people will talk about me that I wasn't selfish. I was a man that always wanted to give back." 

Rivera's work on and off the field has been pretty remarkable. It sure looks like his post-playing career will continue to take flight after he officially joins the baseball greats in Cooperstown this weekend. 

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