The fact that this past weekend while in Panama the Yankees were held hit-less by the Miami Marlins was sad, but that was the only sad moment during a ceremonial weekend in Panama. The Yankees and Marlins weren’t just playing for the fans of Panama, but the disciples of the Sandman himself, Mariano Rivera. Arguably the greatest closer to set foot on the mound, Rivera addressed the crowd at Rod Carew Stadium before throwing out the first pitch thanking his teammates and the fans in Panama. The two fans in the stands though that Rivera was really directing that message to were his parents, Delia and Mariano Sr.
Mariano’s parents watched him pitch in the major leagues for 19 seasons. However, Saturday was the first time they saw their son in a pinstripe uniform on their home soil in Panama. Mariano said it has been his dream for the Yankees to travel to Panama and play there. His long, awaited dream came true this past weekend.
Mariano Sr. stated prior to Saturday’s game, “It’s a very special moment for all of us in his family. We’re happy because it’s here in our country, and because Mariano always dreamed about this when he was playing in New York. He’s happy for the Yankees, that they are finally here, because that is the team he signed with that that gave him an opportunity.” In Panama, Mariano Rivera is considered a hero by many young aspiring ball players as the sport is growing in the region.
Which poses the question, “Where else will the Yankees travel to in the future?” Prior to Saturday, the Yankees had not played a game outside of North America since 2004 when they opened the regular season in Tokyo against the then Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays. Will the Yankees possibly make a return trip? After all, they just signed the $155 million dollar man from Japan in Masahiro Tanaka. It would make sense, but team president Randy Levine had no comment about the topic. However, he did stress the importance of the Yankees spreading their label around the world by saying, “I think it’s extremely important. We’re an international brand, we have Yankees fans all over the world and our players enjoy this. We always seem to do it. We’re going to try to come back here and go other places.”
All in all though, the trip to Panama was a memorable one for all Yankees players and the organization. Honoring a Yankee great in his home country does not happen often. This was a special moment for all Yankee fans around the world especially in Panama.