"It was priceless, all these 19 years I played in New York," Rivera said. "I gave everything I had. I promised I would empty the tank and I did. I did empty the tank."
The longtime teammates were introduced at the podium by former manager Joe Torre and Yankees executive Gene Michael. Torre said that with Rivera and Pettitte, "It was never about 'me.' It was always about 'we.'"
Shortly after Rivera opened his remarks, an audience member was heard yelling, "One more year!" The all-time saves leader shook his head and grinned, pointing to Yankees hurler David Robertson, who was seated next to him on the dais and received the chapter's "Good Guy" award.
"We've got our future closer right here," Rivera said. "You've got to respect that."
Pettitte said that sharing the final days of Rivera's career, coinciding with the conclusion of his own time on the mound, had created some of the "coolest moments" of his time in the game.
"Every year, our goal was to bring a World Series championship to this city," Pettitte said. "We had a great opportunity to be part of this franchise. I have been so blessed to have the people that I've had around me and behind me to push me."
The chapter also honored Hank Aaron and Al Downing, paying tribute to the upcoming 40th anniversary of Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run by honoring both pitcher and hitter with the "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" award, noting players who are forever linked.
"I've always thought playing 23 years in the big leagues was something special," Aaron said. "I'm quite honored and quite proud that those three were ballplayers I had the honor of playing with."
Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow and Boston Police Department detective Kevin McGill were on hand as the chapter honored the "Boston Strong" recovery efforts with the "You Gotta Have Heart" award.
"I'm honored to be in this kind of company," said McGill, who was visibly touched by a lengthy standing ovation. "Thank you -- not for me, but for every cop, every fireman, every EMT."
Mets pitchers Bobby Parnell and Dillon Gee received the Joan Payson award for humanitarian service. Both players have been active with Tuesday's Children, a charity that helps families affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
"We're just lucky to give back," Parnell said. "That's what this game is about."
All three of the new managerial inductees into the Hall of Fame -- Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa -- were on hand for the event, as were the major award winners of 2013.
That group included American League MVP Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and National League MVP Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, as well as Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer of the Tigers and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.
"Growing up, you never really think of being right here," said Kershaw, who was introduced at the podium by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, a surprise addition to the guest list. "You just think about playing in the big leagues. You never think about sitting next to Sandy Koufax at a dinner like this."
Broadcaster Tim McCarver was honored for his long and meritorious service to the game, and Marquis Grissom was on hand to speak on behalf of the 1994 Expos, who were recognized with the Casey Stengel "You Could Look It Up Award."
Grissom and the Expos led the NL East by six games and had just won 20 of 23 games when a player strike hit in August '94, eventually wiping out a World Series that Montreal had a good shot to have appeared in.
"I think it's ironic we're here 20 years later talking about the 1994 Expos," Grissom said. "I think that speaks volumes about the kind of team we had."
Wil Myers of the Rays picked up his AL Rookie of the Year Award, and Jose Fernandez of the Marlins received his NL Rookie of the Year Award. Both Managers of the Year were also recognized, with Clint Hurdle of the Pirates and Terry Francona of the Indians accepting their hardware.
"I'm truly blessed to be able to earn a living doing what I'd be doing anyway for free," Francona said.