At the end of this baseball season we will lose a hero. He will be entering a new stage of life and playing a new ball game. The greatest closer of all time, Mariano Riviera, is ready to retire.
Mariano enters this final year with glee. He still loves the game and loves his job. But it is time for a new stage of life for the Yankee legend and he “can’t wait.”
A long time baseball fanatic, I hate to see him go, but I know he is happy and ready to move on. I look at his career, playing baseball everyday, pitching for the most storied franchise in sports history. “How could he be ready to leave that”, I ask myself. But, I know full well why. Mariano has lived fully in each stage of life.
He has enjoyed baseball, now he will enjoy evangelism. One needs to look no further than the outline of Mariano’s life to understand that this man has enjoyed fully each stage of life, whether he knew it or not. His life is an example of the natural progression through each stage of life.
Childhood – Like most of us, Mariano lived a somewhat normal childhood. Fishing on his father’s boat in Panama, he lived an impoverished and modest life. He loved soccer far more than baseball.
Roaring Twenties – His twenties were spent flying back and forth from the USA to Panama. He traveled from town to town in the Yankees minor league system. He was married and began having children. But this stage of life is about learning and he was learning all the while. He learned more about God and more about a pitch called the “cutter.”
Thirties – Our thirties are a time for investing. This stage of life assumes we have our skills and talents learned. It is now that we can apply them. Mariano invested in his craft, his team, and his family. He became one of the game’s greatest pitchers. He became one of the highest paid closers of all time. He put down roots in New York and he won a World Series, or five. He also lost one in 2001.
Forties – Now an old man by baseball standards, Mariano is entering the final stage of life in the MLB. He has etched his name into Cooperstown (home of the MLB Hall of Fame) set all types of records, and managed to avoid the all-to-popular sports star scandal. He is now entering the Legacy stage of life
Growing up loving sports, I could see myself on the mound of Yankee Stadium. If it were a dream to be there, why would anyone ever want to leave? They leave for the same reason people leave the company they founded or the CEO position they worked so hard for; they leave because their work is done. For Mariano, his work is done. He has traveled the natural progression through the stages of life, leaving no chapter unfinished. He begins his new chapter soon, hopefully with yet another ring on his finger.
What is your favorite memory of Mariano Rivera?