Rivera Makes History With 602

The longtime New York Yankees closer became the all-time saves leader on Monday.

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

It seems as though New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has been around since God created dirt, hell thanks to grandfathering he even wears 42, which was retired league wide in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1997.  On Monday – exactly 15 years and 125 days since his first save – Rivera set the major league record with his 602nd career save.

The crowd began to roar as Rivera trotted out to his theme song, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, and it only got louder after every pitch he threw.  When it was all over, the 41-year-old threw a perfect ninth inning in front of the New York faithful, retiring Trevor Plouffe, Michael Cuddyer and Chris Parmelee of the Minnesota Twins, which put him past Trevor Hoffman, whom he tied in Toronto just days before.

The Yankees lost on Sunday and in doing so gave Rivera the chance to accomplish the feat during the Yankees’ last homestand of the season.  This wasn’t the first milestone Yankees fans have been treated to this season; just over two months ago Derek Jeter got his historic 3,000th hit at home.

Monday’s save was the 43rd of the season for Rivera, who has had eight seasons of at least 40-plus saves, one short of Hoffman’s all-time record of nine.  The two are the only pitchers in history with more than four 40-save seasons, but Rivera has a much longer resume thanks to his Yankees pinstripes.

Rivera is a 12-time All-Star and was named MVP of the 1999 World Series.  Speaking of postseason baseball, no one has ever been a better playoff relief pitcher than Rivera.  He has 42 career postseason saves – the next closest is Brad Lidge with 18 – and boasts a 0.71 ERA, holding opponents to a .176 batting average. 

Rivera’s 602 saves is impressive, especially in today’s game and it could be one of these records that might not ever be broken, or maybe not until we’re all old and gray.  To put it in perspective, he has 278 more saves than any other active pitcher.  Rivera is a dinosaur and when he goes, the role of long term closer as we knew it, could be extinct.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.