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Yankees Closer, Westchester Resident Mariano Rivera Becomes First Unanimous

Mariano Rivera Photo Credit: Contributed
Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera with members of the New Rochelle police department. Photo Credit: NRPD
New York Yankee legend Mariano Rivera signing baseballs for New Rochelle elementary school students. Photo Credit: CSDNR
The Yankees' Mariano Rivera surprised potential recruits at CNR Athletics' open house last week. Photo Credit: contributed
New York Yankees legendary pitcher Mariano Rivera Photo Credit: Justin Stock

Westchester’s own Mariano Rivera has put a new line in the record books, becoming the first Major League Baseball player to ever be unanimously selected to the Hall of Fame, and the county can't help but show its pride.

The Major’s all-time saves leader, Rivera became the first to receive unanimous support, being named on each of the voters’ 425 ballots. He will be enshrined alongside the late Roy Halladay, designated hitter Edgar Martinez and former teammate Mike Mussina, who each received the required 75 percent of the vote.

Rivera becomes just the 11th player to ever receive at least 97 percent support, joining Chipper Jones (97.16 percent); Greg Maddux (97.20); Randy Johnson (97.27); Tony Gwynn (97.61); George Brett (98.19); Ty Cobb (98.23); Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53); Nolan Ryan (98.79); Tom Seaver (98.84); and Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32).

During his career, the Yankee legend racked up 652 regular season saves, adding another 42 in the postseason to bolster his stats. A 13-time All-Star, Rivera’s resume also includes five Rolaids Relief Awards, five World Series rings and MVP honors from the All-Star Game, ALCS and World Series.

Though the Panama native is known internationally for his work on the mound, many in Westchester know the Harrison resident for his work in New Rochelle. Rivera has has also made appearances at local schools, helped out at a local baseball camp for children and has delivered laptops and other donations to kids. He opened a Toyota/Scion car dealership on North Bedford Road in Mount Kisco in 2015.

Rivera, with the help of volunteers in the community, is also credited with funding the re-opening of Refugio de Esperanza , the church where his wife, pastor Clara Rivera, presides in next to New Rochelle City Hall. It is estimated that the Rivera’s foundation pledged nearly $3 million to get the once defunct church up and running on North Avenue.

The building, which was once a Presbyterian Church, was abandoned in the 1970s before the city eventually purchased it. The building would later be sold to Rivera for $1 with the understanding he would renovate and refurbish it.

“The architect told me this was a long, hard, pleasant battle,” New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said. “It was hard work to do this, but it was a joy to produce something of so much beauty.”

On Tuesday, following the announcement that Rivera was heading to Cooperstown, Bramson praised the pitcher who has been such a boon to his community.

“Congratulations to Mariano Rivera on becoming the first person in baseball history to be elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame. New Rochelle takes special pride in Mariano, who has been a selfless, generous contributor to our community, and who makes his spiritual home here at Refugio De Esperanza, where his wife Clara serves as Pastor. A well-earned honor for a remarkable athlete and an even more remarkable human being.”

City Manager Chuck Strome III released a statement of his own shortly after the announcement of the 2019 Hall of Fame class.

“Congratulations to Marino Rivera for his unanimous election to the Hall of Fame. It is a well-deserved honor and tribute to his outstanding career. Not only is he a baseball Hall of Famer, but a ‘Hall of Famer’ in New Rochelle for his generosity and the volunteer service he continually provides to our community.”

An admitted Met fan, Westchester County Executive George Latimer also praised Rivera’s contributions to the area.

"Even this Met fan can admit that this unanimous vote is well deserved and solidifies his place in baseball history. Rivera, our favorite Sandman, isn’t just a tremendous athlete but he is also a humanitarian who has given back and helped those in need,” he said. “We are proud of him, and proud to call him a Westchester resident."

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