SEATTLE -- Mariano Rivera continued his season-long "Mo-ment of Thanks" tour on Friday with about a dozen young Mariners staffers at Safeco Field, located in a city that the future Hall of Famer very nearly called home.
The group of high schoolers and college students was wowed to hear that in spring 1996, Yankees principal owner George M. Steinbrenner was uncertain about young Derek Jeter and suggested that his baseball personnel work on a trade with the Mariners for light-hitting shortstop Felix Fermin.
In exchange, Seattle would have had their choice of either pitcher Bob Wickman or Rivera. It was only at the insistence of then general manager Bob Watson and assistant Brian Cashman that Rivera remained in pinstripes; Fermin had just 16 more big league at-bats in his future while Rivera and Jeter both marched toward the Hall of Fame.
"We're doing this to be able to say thank you for what you guys do in baseball," Rivera said. "It doesn't matter if you're a Yankees fan or not. I do respect that. What's important is that you are baseball fans."
The 43-year-old Rivera said that his hope is that meetings like Friday's can motivate and inspire the young Mariners employees to be successful and overcome the challenges that are in their futures.
"The job isn't easy," Rivera said. "If you want to do something, you have to know what are your tools and what do you need to be successful with what you face out there.
"We're all going to fail at one point. It's what we do when we struggle. You can take that as a failure or as a stepping stone to get better."
Rivera is planning to conduct similar visits in each city the Yankees visit this season, and has already met with longtime fans and employees in several stadiums around the league.
"I'm not surprised," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Mo is as humble a guy as you're ever going to be around, and I think he's very thankful for his time around the big leagues and what the fans have meant to the game. He's appreciative and he just wants to give back."