As Mariano Rivera prepares to retire, the closer's farewell tour has become a central subplot to the season. Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader has been greeted warmly in each of his road stops, and the Yankees held a ceremony of their own to honor Rivera's illustrious career on Sunday.
Rivera will be the last active player to regularly wear uniform No. 42, with the number having been retired throughout MLB in 1997 to honor the achievements of barrier-breaking great Jackie Robinson. During his 19-year big league career, Rivera has also chiseled his own mark on the number's legacy. In honor of Rivera and his contributions, MLB.com is commemorating 42 notable moments from Rivera's career -- the 42 Days of Mo.
Mariano Rivera was all alone in celebrating his historic record-breaking 602nd career save.
After the iconic Yankees closer dispatched of three Twins hitters in the top of the ninth at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 19, 2011, he was urged by his teammates to soak in the moment. On the mound. By himself.
"For the first time in my career, I am on the mound alone," Rivera said after that game. "There was nobody behind me, nobody in front of me, and I'm still surrounded by so many people. I can't describe that feeling. It was priceless. It was a moment I didn't know could be like that. I was thanking God in that moment."
Rivera, of course, has gone on to save 50 more games since the day he passed Trevor Hoffman for first place on the all-time list on that September day in the Bronx.
That sunny afternoon, Rivera retired Trevor Plouffe, Michael Cuddyer and Chris Parmelee in succession, and even induced one of his trademark broken-bat outs.
"Definitely a special moment, 602," then-Yankees catcher Russell Martin said afterward. "All-time leader in saves, that's pretty incredible. It couldn't happen to a better guy. His work ethic, how he prepares himself every day, he's one of the greatest. He is the greatest now."
It was a milestone mixed into one of many superb seasons in Rivera's 19-year career, which will come to an end after the 2013 season. He recorded 44 saves that season -- the same number he's recorded this year, entering his final regular-season home game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, and the most since he saved a career-best 53 in 2004 -- and was an American League All-Star. The Yankees won the AL East that year before falling to the Tigers in the AL Division Series.