Mariano Rivera Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Mariano Rivera

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Award

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a prestigious award given to few great Americans. It is the highest award a civilian can receive, and Rivera joins a small list of athletes to receive the honor. Tiger Woods and Jerry West were also recognized with the award this season. Rivera is the 12th honoree during President Trump’s term.

Other notable recipients from Major League Baseball include; Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and Stan Musial. Furthermore, the ceremony Monday now puts Rivera among some of America’s finest.

Rivera’s Career

Mariano Rivera grew up in a Panama. He was signed to a $3000 contract with the New York Yankees in 1990, after attending a tryout with a hole in his shoe. After 5 years of hard work in the minor leagues, Rivera made his MLB debut in 1995. He pitched his entire career with the Yankees before retiring in 2013.

Monday’s award ceremony drew various references to Rivera’s incredible career, including President Trump’s proclamation that he is the greatest closer in MLB history.

During his 19-year career, Rivera pitched to an incredible 2.21 ERA. He finished his career as the all-time leader in games finished (952) and saves (652). The legend of Rivera comes not just from the eye-popping statistics he posted, but also from his ability to do so while only throwing one pitch, a cutter.

His pitching helped the Yankees to five World Series titles from 1996-2009. He was the stopper at the end of the game, cementing one of the greatest dynasties in recent memory. Rivera also became the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player against the Atlanta Braves. In that series, he threw four-and-two-thirds scoreless innings with two saves and one win in a Yankee sweep.

Following the 13-time all-star’s retirement from baseball in 2013, baseball fans were certain that Rivera would reach the Hall of the Fame. In January, he made history once again as the first person inducted with a unanimous vote. Now, he adds Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient to his list of 2019 accomplishments.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images