When Mariano Rivera started playing Little League Baseball® at Barrio Colon Little League in La Chorrea, Panama, in the 1980s, no one knew that he would go on to become the most dominant, prolific closing pitcher in Major League Baseball History. Originally a shortstop, his success throughout his career with the New York Yankees and his commitment to improving the lives of children through the Mariano Rivera Foundation, Mr. Rivera will be honored as the 2015 Enshrinee into the Little League Hall of Excellence.
“Mr. Rivera is a perfect example that with hard work and dedication, you can accomplish great things,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “For more than 75 years, that lesson has been at the heart of Little League. We are honored to celebrate the sportsmanship, dedication, and leadership that Mr. Rivera has shown throughout his career, and honor all of his accomplishments as we enshrine him in the Little League Hall of Excellence.”
Mr. Rivera’s achievements will be celebrated at the Little League Hall of Excellence Enshrinement Ceremony, scheduled to be held at the 2015 Little League Baseball World Series prior to the 8 p.m. game on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Mr. Rivera will be the 49th person to be enshrined in the Little League Hall of Excellence, joining fellow New York Yankee pitcher, Mike Mussina, a Little League International Board of Directors Member, who was enshrined in 2014. Mr. Mussina’s first and only 20-win season came in 2008, his last season prior to retiring. Mr. Rivera is credited with 10 saves over those 20 wins.
Drafted by the New York Yankees in 1990, Mr. Rivera made his first Major League Baseball appearance in 1995, then as a starting pitcher. He moved to the bullpen during the Yankees’ World Series run that year, and started establishing his legacy as the most dominant closer in the game’s history. In 1997, he became the team’s closer, a position he held until his retirement in 2013. He holds the MLB record for most saves with 652 and was named as an All-Star 13 times. His postseason dominance helped the Yankees win five World Series Championships. He has the lowest postseason ERA for pitchers with more than 30 appearances (.072) and the record for most postseason saves (42). He also became the last person in all of MLB history to wear the number 42, retired league-wide in honor of Jackie Robinson. In 2014, MLB named the American League Reliever of the Year Award in honor of Mr. Rivera.
In addition to his pitching accomplishments, Mr. Rivera was known for his mental toughness and for helping mentor young pitchers. Through his foundation, he has donated thousands of dollars in support of education opportunities for children in the United States and Panama, through church-based institutions.
Mr. Rivera and his wife, Clara, live in Rye, N.Y., and have three sons. Their oldest son, Mariano Rivera III, is following in his father’s footsteps. A pitcher, he was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Mr. Rivera's is scheduled to attend the Little League Baseball World Series on Tuesday, Aug. 25, with his enshrinement ceremony prior to the 8 p.m. game.
Established in 1988, enshrinement in the World of Little League Hall of Excellence is an annual honor bestowed on a Little League graduate (or graduates) who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen profession and exemplify the values learned as children in Little League Baseball or Softball. Mr. Rivera is the third Little League Graduate from outside the United States to be enshrined in the Hall of Excellence. Panama holds the distinction of being the country that had the first Little League programs outside of the United States when leagues were formed on either side of the Panama Canal in 1950. For more information and a complete list of Hall of Excellence enshrinees, visit LittleLeagueMuseum.org.
Over the course of 10 days, 32 games will be played in the 69th Little League Baseball World Series, concluding with the Little League Baseball World Series Championship Game, which is scheduled for 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 30. For more information on the 2015 Little League Baseball World Series, visit LLBWS.org.