I was fortunate enough to meet Mariano Rivera once.
It was July 2006 at Yankee Stadium, outside the Yankees locker room (no, I really wasn't supposed to be down there but yes I had a sweet connection that managed to sneak me down there after the game.) I was standing in the hallway outside of where most of the press gathered pre and post games. I walked up to him and said "Excuse Mr. Rivera, would you mind signing my Dad's jersey? I would appreciate it." He smiled and said very softspokenly, "yes, of course." He signed it, I thanked him several times, shook his hand and watched him leave. He could not have been nicer and I've heard from many, before and after this encounter, that he has always been a gracious & humble man. He seems like a superhero that can throw the most lethal of cutters across the plate but he is also a father that would watch his kids get on the school bus in the morning and oblige neighborhood fans for autographs and meetings. (He lived several streets over from where I grew up in the mid 90s as well.)
As a sports fan, especially a Yankee fan, I know I'm very lucky to have witnessed his greatness in my lifetime and especially in person at the 'Houses that Ruth (and now George) Built.' I have no doubt he will go on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and will forever be known in Yankee & baseball history as one of the best players to ever play the game. 'Enter Sandman' has forever taken on new meaning to all fans.
Mo, Thank you for all your hard work and efforts over the years in pinstripes.
Enjoy this final season - I know I will.