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Panama president throws first pitch to Mo

Panama president throws first pitch to Mo

NEW YORK -- In the hours before Mariano Rivera caught a ceremonial first pitch from Panama President Ricardo Martinelli on Friday, it was brought to Rivera's attention that Martinelli might be just as starstruck by one of Panama's biggest celebrities as Rivera was by the president.

"I hope so," said a bashful Rivera.

Not long after, two of Panama's most famous citizens finally met -- Martinelli tossing out a first pitch to Rivera, who greeted his country's newly elected leader halfway to the Yankee Stadium mound.

"It's special," Rivera said of the meeting with Martinelli, who wore a No. 42 Yankees jersey to the game. "It's good to have a chance to meet my president and have a little conversation with him."

Martinelli, a Panamanian supermarket mogul and former chairman of the Panama Canal Authority board, was sworn in as president in July.

The meeting was Rivera's second with a president this season. At the All-Star Game in St. Louis in July, Rivera and the rest of the game's participants had an opportunity to meet United States President Barack Obama, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Busch Stadium.

Friday's event was part of Hispanic Heritage Month at Yankee Stadium, which will continue on Saturday, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor also throws out a ceremonial first pitch. The celebration will conclude Monday, when the Yankees present their annual Hispanic Heritage Month Community Achievement Awards prior to their game against the Royals.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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