ARLINGTON, Texas – As much as fans of the Texas Rangers dislike the New York Yankees, it’s hard not to pull for Mariano Rivera.
That was on display once again Tuesday.
As part of his farewell tour in his final season, baseball’s all-time saves leader is meeting with people at every stadium he visits and thanking them for what they do.
The stops have included everyone from payroll workers to two survivors from the Boston Marathon bombing.
At Rangers Ballpark, the lucky recipients of the visit were members of the complex grounds crew, a mechanic and the workers in charge of keeping all the televisions in the park working. The only female worker, Kaley Dollar, is a huge Rivera fan. She even wrote a high school paper about him.
Rivera spent 30 minutes with approximately 20 of them, answering questions in both English and Spanish, posing for pictures, giving them autographed baseballs and thanking them for what they do.
It’s an idea Rivera came up with shortly after he announced his retirement as a way to remember his final season.
“Allow me to say thank you for what you guys do,” Rivera said. “I wanted to do something different and I wanted to make sure I said thanks to those we never see or we don’t interact too much. It has been wonderful.”
Rivera answered questions ranging from what was his first game like to who influenced him the most in baseball to what his post-playing plans are to why he enters games to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”.
“I didn’t choose the song,” Rivera said. “It would have been the last music I choose. I kept it because the fans like it.”
While Rivera is honoring stadium workers, he continues to get honored at parks. On Thursday the Rangers will honor him in a ceremony that includes closer Joe Nathan and former Rangers and Yankees closer John Wetteland.
Those honors are nice for Rivera, but he’s getting more out of his personal visits.
“It’s been more than what I thought,” Rivera said. “Instead of me being thankful and them learning from me, I’m learning from them. It’s a blessing and I thank God for that.”