By: Billy Lewis
Mariano Rivera last threw a pitch on September 26, 2013. The moment Rivera threw his last pitch, it was a certainty he would be elected into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. The only question was, would he become the first unanimous Hall of Famer?
At the time of Rivera’s retirement in 2013, Tom Seaver held the record for voting percentage of a new Hall of Fame inductee with 98.84%. In the time between Rivera’s retirement and his induction, Ken Griffey Jr. set the record with 99.32% in 2016.
Not many people get to go to sleep every night knowing they are the best at what they did. Rivera is undoubtedly the greatest closer to ever play the game of baseball. Regular or postseason didn’t matter, Rivera was up to the challenge.
One of my favorite stats of all time: more people have walked on the moon (12) than have scored an earned run against Mo in the playoffs (11). This clearly was not for lack of opportunities as Rivera logged 141 innings pitched in the playoffs. Those 11 runs over 141 innings comes out to a minuscule 0.70 ERA.
Mo finished his career as the all-time saves leader with 652. Trevor Hoffman is second on that list with 601. Rivera’s career regular season ERA is 2.21, Hoffman’s is 2.87. Last year Hoffman made the Hall of Fame, in his third try.
Left No Doubt
Rivera’s performance on the field left no doubt he would someday be elected into Cooperstown. The only question would be if he could beat the reliever stigma and gain a high percentage of the vote. Of course, there was one voter would not include Rivera on his ballot because he didn’t believe in the value of a closer.
Luckily he decided not to send in his ballot so he wouldn’t hurt Rivera’s chances of becoming the first unanimous Hall of Famer. As it turns out 425 votes were submitted, and 425 times Rivera’s name was checked off. Rivera set the career saves record and now has the distinction as the first unanimous in Major League Baseball history.
It was a pleasure watching Rivera pitch throughout his career. A career that spanned from the time I was a toddler until the time I was a college student. One thing that was easy to tell, I was watching greatness. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Mo, even though he was a great pitcher, he is an even better person. Congratulations Sandman, nobody has deserved a unanimous election more.