PANAMA CITY, Panama -- For his second trip to the mound during this Legend Series, Mariano Rivera had some company. With the former Yankees closer at his side, retired professional boxer and national icon Roberto Duran threw out Sunday's ceremonial first pitch at Rod Carew Stadium.
"I think it was a great experience," manager Joe Girardi said. "I mean, how often do you get to see Mariano Rivera and Roberto Duran throw out the first pitch? I thought today was really cool, to see him. I think it was a great trip, and I think it's a big plus."
Duran, 62, lobbed the toss to Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Duran was "extremely proud" to be part of Major League Baseball's return to Panama, and he expressed hope that teams will consider returning on a regular basis.
Duran and Rivera are "casual" acquaintances, and they occasionally run into each other in Miami and exchange pleasantries. There is mutual respect for their athletic accomplishments -- Rivera as baseball's saves leader and Duran as one of the great boxers of all time.
Duran relayed a story about a visit to Yankee Stadium -- he was unsure as to whether it was in the 1970s or 1980s -- as a guest of Reggie Jackson, who had promised to hit him a home run in that night's game. Duran said that after a couple of strikeouts, Jackson finally connected, and the slugger was relieved to have come through.
Duran toured the Yankees' clubhouse and was given Jackson's jersey as a parting gift; he said the fit was so loose, it looked more like a dress. Other Yankees gave Duran their gear as souvenirs to the point where Duran felt as though he had been invited on a shopping trip.
Asked who is more popular in Panama, he or Rivera, Duran grinned, pointed his index fingers in the air and flexed his biceps. No further response was needed.