COOPERSTOWN - The National Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2019 was announced less than two weeks ago, and Cooperstown is already getting ready for induction weekend.
Before the induction ceremony takes place on July 21, each Hall of Fame inductee gets the chance to tour the museum where they will be enshrined forever. On Friday, a face very familiar to local baseball fans made the trip to upstate New York.
“From a small fishing village to Cooperstown. No one would believe that,” said former New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera.
In 1990 a 20-year-old Rivera hopped on a plane from his native Panama, headed towards the United States to begin his professional baseball career.
In 1995 he was promoted to the major leagues and arrived in New York to pitch for the Yankees. Little did he know then his career would make history.
“If someone would have told me, ‘Mariano, in 29 years we'd be sitting in Cooperstown talking about the Hall of Fame’… I would tell then you're crazy,” said Rivera.
Friday was Rivera's first trip ever to Cooperstown. Despite the frigid weather, his tour around the museum and seeing all the baseball history made the visit worth it.
“This overpowers the weather. It's freezing outside, but this makes it warm,” said Rivera.
Just ten days ago “Mo” found out he was the first unanimous election to the hall. But he said it wasn't until today that it all finally sunk in.
“Yesterday I was riding here, and I'm seeing all that snow and all that stuff, and I'm like ‘man, what am i doing here, you know?’ But when I got here, again, everything disappears. Everything is like, wow, that's what it is.”
Rivera is baseball's career saves leader with 652. He won five World Series over 19 seasons with the Yankees. He received all 425 votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.