Posts Tagged ‘Panama’

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

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ESPN E:60 is airing a piece on Mariano Rivera in this week’s show. He goes back to Panama and talks about his upbringing. He also talks about the most dominant pitch in the history of baseball…”The Kotter” (as Mariano pronounces it).

From Andy Hall (ESPN Communications):

ESPN E:60 Presents: Yankees Pitcher Mariano Rivera Revealed

Mariano Rivera, considered one of the greatest closers in Major League Baseball history, has seldom opened up about his private life. On Tuesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning, primetime newsmagazine E:60 will air an in-depth profile of the New York Yankees ace. E:60’s Tom Rinaldi, with unprecedented access, traveled into his world, including visiting Rivera’s home, favorite restaurant and his birthplace in Puerto Caimito, Panama.

“The vast majority of baseball fans, despite his long established fame and greatness, have never even seen him outside of uniform. It struck us that despite the fact that he may be the greatest relief pitcher of all time, and the only man in history to close and win the World Series five times, there was an air of mystery about him. He is remarkably without air or entitlement of any kind. He’s one of the most respectful and polite people – let alone athletes I had the pleasure to meet. When asked to describe his job, he said that it’s like working for a town and everyone in the township giving you their earnings. You’re either going to invest their savings and give them a return or blow it.” – Tom Rinaldi

Rivera on the difference in getting a final out and a final out in the World Series…

“Getting the final out is great, the final out in the World Series is ‘wow, we’re champions!'” We did it.”

On his success…

“Amazing. Unbelievable. I still don’t understand how it happened. Yes, I have abilities, but there were far better players than me.

“My confidence never changed because I know who I trust and I know who I am. When you have that kind of attitude and mentality it doesn’t matter the outcomes. Sometimes you’re going to lose, a lot of times you’re going to win.”

On the imprint he hopes to leave…

“That imprint has to be that I did everything within my power to help others, to do the right thing for the NY Yankees, for my teammates, my family and that alone, I’ll be happy with that.”

A preview clip ESPN E:60 feature here.

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