I’ve never seen this video before, and I just found it very humbling to watch. We’ve sat in front of our televisions for years on end and watched Mariano Rivera simply dominate the game. He is, after all, a 12-time All-Star, the all-time leader in saves, with five Rolaiads Relief Man Awards and a three time Delivery Man of the Year. If there has ever been a sure bet for the Hall of Fame, he’s it.
But growing up in Panama, his own family didn’t have the money to buy him a bat or glove. Panama, like most of the world, is a country of haves and have-nots. Given it’s climate and large tourist industry, parts of Panama feature restaurants, casinos and nightlife to rival any vacation destination. But Mariano did not grow up privileged in Panama City. He was the son of a fisherman in Puerto Caimito. There were no fancy restaurants, no casinos and no lavish nightlife. It is doubtful that you can order take-out or play cards online at partycasino.com there to this day.
Mariano didn’t even have a decent field to play on. Kids from the neighborhood made balls from old clothing and nets; rolling the material up and wrapping it up with tape. But given how Mariano and so many other great Panamanian players turned out, it seems to have mattered very little. Baseball is still a lot more about heart and determination than equipment and trappings.
Using a knife and a small piece of cardboard, he created a baseball glove. It’s just incredible to see how far he’s come. From cardboard gloves and fields without grass to Yankee Stadium and the most prestigious franchise in all of sports is simply mind boggling. It just makes you smile. [talking about his cardboard baseball glove] “I was the happiest kid in the neighborhood with this thing.” – Mo