Bronx, NY – The New York Yankees honored the retiring Mariano Rivera on Sunday with a ceremony prior to their game against the San Francisco Giants.
Rivera, the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball, announced his retirement before the season. He was joined on the field Sunday by family members and Yankees management, as well as current and former teammates.
"I appreciate you guys," remarked Rivera toward his teammates -- past and present. "The Lord has blessed me with a big family and all these guys are part of my family. I thank you guys, I love you guys. You are special."
Former teammates included David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada, as well as former manager Joe Torre and John Wetteland -- the man who preceded Rivera as Yankees closer.
Before the on-field festivities, the Yankees added another retired number to the famed Monument Park by retiring the No. 42 worn by Rivera, who played his entire career with the organization.
The No. 42 had already been retired throughout baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson, but those who had already been wearing the number could continue with it until the end of their careers.
Robinson's widow and daughter were also present for Sunday's festivities.
"Even though I never met him, he has been a hero and an inspiration for me," said Rivera about Robinson.
After the former players were introduced and the reveal of the retired number, the heavy metal band "Metallica" played Rivera's entrance song "Enter Sandman" as the future Hall of Famer walked onto the field from the bullpen to a thunderous applause from the fans at Yankee Stadium.
Rivera thanked his family and the Steinbrenner family, while also acknowledging the fans in his remarks.
"To you fans, thank you for 19 years of support," he said. "It has been a great run. You have been amazing. You have always been here, for me and the organization. I will never forget that. You will have part of my heart here in New York."
The Yankees went on to drop a 2-1 decision to the Giants in Sunday's game.
Rivera entered the contest in the eighth inning and kept the Yankees within a run, but New York was unable to scratch out a run over the final two innings and suffered a crushing blow to its faint playoff hopes.
"It was a great day," said Rivera afterward. "I didn't know what to feel, but when I got to the monument and saw my number retired, it was emotional.
"Today was a big day for me and my family. I appreciate what the organization did and how the fans supported me, but in the end it wasn't that great because we lost the game."
The Yankees fell four games behind Cleveland for the final AL wild card spot and are also 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay, which holds the top wild card berth and will visit Yankee Stadium for a three-game series starting Tuesday.