Flushing, NY – In familiar fashion, Mariano Rivera left the bullpen area and jogged onto the field to "Enter Sandman" by Metallica.
What happened next for the future Hall of Famer was a scene that will be replayed in his mind for years to come, and also for those who witnessed another crowning moment for the Yankees closer - this time as All-Star MVP.
"You guys are the best. Thank you New York. It's been a privilege. You guys almost made me cry," Rivera said during an on-field ceremony Tuesday night at Citi Field following the American League's 3-0 win over the National League.
It's the third MVP award of Mo's career, adding to the 1999 World Series MVP and the 2003 ALCS honor. He's also the first reliever to win the outright MVP honor at the All-Star Game.
After arriving to the mound to start the bottom of the eighth inning of his final All-Star Game, the 43-year-old tipped his cap to the capacity crowd as he received an extended standing ovation and his team holding a three-run lead.
Players in both dugouts stood and applauded the all-time saves leader, as he took the field alone to begin his warm-up pitches. The entire AL team climbed over the top rail of the dugout for a standing ovation.
Only 16 pitches later, Rivera was out of the eighth inning in 1-2-3 fashion as he retired Jean Segura, pinch-hitter Allen Craig and then Carlos Gomez.
Rivera, who previously disclosed this will be his 19th and final season in the majors, all with the Yankees, exited off the field and left it up to Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers to close out the game. The NL was limited to three hits.
The night, though, belonged to Rivera, who will finish his career being named to 13 All-Star teams. That's the second-most all-time behind Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, who was named to 17 Midsummer Classics.
"You have been not only the greatest relief pitcher, but you have been so remarkable off the field," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said.
As part of winning the MVP, Rivera will have a field made over, in his name, in a city in the U.S. He also received the keys to a 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray.
Rivera joined Derek Jeter (2000) as the only Yankees to win an All-Star Game MVP. Rivera is also the first pitcher to win the All-Star MVP since Pedro Martinez in 1999 when he pitched for the Red Sox. Rivera, though, is the oldest to win the ASG MVP, surpassing Cal Ripken Jr., who was 40 when he won the award in 2001.
"I think that the only one that will top this is the World Series. Besides that, I mean, it has been outstanding," Rivera said. "Especially when you are not expecting this. I wanted to pitch. I wanted to come to the game and since this will be my last one, I wanted to enjoy and be able to pitch for the last time in the All-Star Game. The rest was indescribable. I can't describe it."
There have been four players to win the MVP in both the All-Star Game and World Series - Rivera, Jeter, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.
In nine career All-Star innings, in nine such appearances, Rivera has a major league-record four saves and has given up just one run on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks.