Despite this weekend’s beef with teammate Joba Chamberlain, retiring New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera‘s farewell tour is going quite well.
Rather than just take curtain calls and accept framed pictures that will wind up on eBay someday, Rivera is having fun and taking time to meet the laypeople and fans at the stadiums he is visiting for the final time. He’s also having a spectacular year.
Already MLB’s undisputed GOAT in his closer role, Rivera also leads the American League with 15 saves and has a 1.65 ERA in 2013, adding to his MLB all-time leading marks in saves, games finished and ERA+.
All this isn’t surprising for fans who have watched Rivera throw a zillion cut fastballs since 1997. However, retired Baltimore Orioles scout John Stokoe, who signed 1979 Cy Young-winner Mike Flanagan for the O’s, thought Rivera could have used one more pitch.
While scouting Rivera in the Triple-A International League in 1995, Stokoe filed a report on Rivera, then with the Columbus Clippers, after he threw five near-perfect innings against the Orioles’ Rochester affiliate; he walked one batter before the game was called because of rain.
Among Stokoe’s comments on Rivera:
• Rivera’s “Velocity over-powered our Rochester hitters.”
• “Did not see an off-speed pitch. He needs one for the future.”
• “Has a real good, live arm & should be a good ML pitcher in the future.”
Turns out Rivera never did need that off-speed pitch. He found another one, though.
(Click photo to enlarge)