Mariano Rivera in 2013

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Mariano Rivera: Mel Stottlemyre Was The Person That 'Made It Happen'

January 23, 2019 - 3:56 pm
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By WFAN.com

Mariano Rivera did things that no one else ever could.

On the field, he was probably the best reliever in the history of baseball, and that earned him the right to be the first player ever unanimously selected to the Hall of Fame. Rivera goes into the hall alongside fellow Yankee Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, Lee Smith and Harold Baines.

On Wednesday, Rivera, Mussina and Martinez took part in a press conference in New York where they were introduced as the newest legends elected to the Hall.

Rivera thought back to his childhood in Panama and how he couldn’t really believe where his life had taken him.

“It would’ve been impossible for me to achieve it without his (God’s) help,” said Rivera. “To my wife, my family, baseball writers: you guys are the best. It’s just a privilege. I remember coming from a small fishing village, Puerto Caimito, in Panama. Just me being here, speaking about the Hall of Fame, it’s something that my mind can’t comprehend.”

In 19 major league seasons, all of which he spent in the Bronx, Rivera racked up an MLB-record 652 saves to go with his career 2.21 ERA in 1,283 2/3 innings. The 13-time All-Star won five World Series championships with the Yankees and was named the World Series MVP in 1999.

He paid tribute at the press conference to the late Mel Stottlemyre, who coached him in New York from 1996-2005 and recently passed away from bone marrow cancer.

“I was blessed that I had one of the best pitching coaches, and that to me was Mel Stottlemyre … He was a person that always wanted me to be successful and wanted me to be the best. He always tried to bring the best out of me. That was the person that made it happen.”

MORE: Murti: Mariano Rivera Was Perfection, But Mike Mussina Also Deserving Of Hall Of Fame

Rivera, Mussina, and Martinez all also spent time praising each other’s abilities and accomplishments during their playing careers. This of course included some light-hearted ribbing, as is common when Mariano Rivera is involved.

“Edgar has to take me to dinner, maybe tomorrow or one of these days,” said Rivera. “It’s because of me that his average is better!”

“In my first few years, I didn’t want to see Edgar in a tough situation … when you face a hitter like Edgar was, you have to really bring your game. If not, he will have you for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”