The Mariano Rivera farewell tour began last weekend in Detroit, and it figures to continue all season.
The New York Yankees closer, who announced last month that he would retire at the end of the season, was honored by the Tigers during a pregame ceremony. Detroit manager Jim Leyland presented Rivera with a framed piece containing photos of the reliever pitching at both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park, complete with dirt from both fields.
"Wonderful; dirt from both stadiums. That will take a good place in my house," Rivera said. "I have to build an extension, I think, because definitely I don't have room for all that. Besides that, it's great. Great to be recognized like that."
"That's quite an honor for me, to be honest with you," Leyland said. "I've gone on record, I think he's the best of all time. I'm not looking for arguments with people to compare guys. I know in my time he's been the best that I've seen. It was just an honor really to be part of it."
Three hours later, Rivera threw a scoreless ninth to close out the Yankees' 7-0 win over the Tigers. Unless the Yankees face the Tigers in the postseason, it marked Rivera's final career appearance in Detroit, the first of many ballpark farewells the 43-year-old will make during the next five-plus months.
"I think it's a nice gesture," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Mo is one of those guys that doesn't come around very often, so I like it. And I think Mo is giving back in return."
As part of his final season, Rivera is taking time to recognize some fans in each city the Yankees visit this season. He spent time with three Tigers fans Saturday: a long-time Tigers season-ticket holder, a long-time member of the grounds crew and a local member of the U.S. Navy.
"Along the way, we want to do a little bit more with the people that work, the people that no one sees," Rivera said. "Those are the people that I want to reach. The fans will be there, but these are people that you never see, but they keep the place clean and do their job. Those are the ones that I want to say, 'Thank you.'"