“This award means a lot,” said Rivera. “And it will be in a special place. Not in my corner but in a special place, because it means that I’ve had a chance to play for one Commissioner. It’s an honor and a privilege to play for the same Commissioner all these years. I’m humbled to receive this, because all I did was try to do my job and help as much as I could. And I’m proud of that.”
The awards and recognition just keep rolling in for Mariano Rivera, the latest being The Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. When will the celebration stop? The better question is- why should it?
The award was established to recognize accomplishments deemed as having historical significance. Only 11 players have ever received it, the last being Ken Griffey JR. who received it in 2011. Others include Roberto Clemente and Ichiro Suzuki.
Rivera deserved the award for many reasons. Two of the most important, of course, are his MLB record 652 saves, and his documented service to helping others.
Bud Selig expressed his admiration for Rivera in this way. “Clearly, unequivocally, he’s the greatest relief pitcher of all time. I don’t want to embarrass him and I don’t want to embarrass the family, but he became the face of baseball for this generation. And he did it with so much class and so much dignity and so much honor.”
And at age 43 he had 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA. That is remarkable. He certainly dispelled those who doubted if he could return from his injury and perform at his customary high level. There should never have been any doubt .
This may be the final award for Rivera before he enters the Hall of Fame. But he still deserves much more. That should start with “Sportsman of the Year.” If Rivera doesn’t deserve that, than nobody does.