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    Mo is a class act

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Posing as a pizza delivery man, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera surprised longtime Athletics employee Julie Vasconcellos by visiting her in the mail room where she has worked going on 25 years.

    Rivera carried in a pizza box Wednesday night and brought Vasconcellos to tears as he thanked her for 2½ decades of hard work behind the scenes.

    ‘‘This is my way to say thank you, thank you for what you do,’’ Rivera told Vasconcellos, who declined to give her age other than ‘‘old.’’ ‘'Twenty-five years, Julie, that’s great! You’re special, Julie, that’s what it is. People here love you.’’

    Rivera signed a ball for Vasconcellos, gave her several hugs and posed for photos — then he stuck around to chat for another 10 minutes or so.

    ‘‘Oh, my heart’s going to town, oh my God,’’ said Vasconcellos, who had to sit down at one point. ‘‘I'm shaking. ... Oh, this is too funny, thank you.’’

    Rivera asked if she was OK, to which she responded, ‘‘I'm just shocked. I'm never going to forget your face again.’’

    He chuckled at that one.

    The 43-year-old Rivera said this is the most creative display of appreciation yet during his farewell tour before he heads into retirement after his 19th major league season.

    He’s doing similar things in each city, getting a thrill in each stop by making one person’s day.

    ‘‘Oh, I love it, yes. I'm enjoying every minute,’’ Rivera said. ‘‘They all have their own personality. I decided before spring training that I wanted to do something different and make sure I said thanks to the fans — not just the regular fans, but also those behind the scenes, like Julie, who has been here (more than) 20 years. That’s wonderful.’’

    Rivera, in his gray Yankees uniform before Wednesday night’s game against the A's, entered the room where Vasconcellos works as A’s personnel told her she had a new trainee on her hands.

    ‘‘Whew, this is really something,’’ Vasconcellos said. ‘‘In grammar school, we could only get the Yankees on our PA system. I grew up here, but there was no Oakland team yet.’’

    These two, strangers turned friends, do share one thing in common: pending retirement.

    ‘‘I love my job, but I hope to retire soon,’’ Vasconcellos said.

    ‘‘I'm done, Julie,’’ Rivera replied with a smile.
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/con...HLI/story.html

    I dare you. I dare you to say something bad about Mariano Rivera.

    He's the New York Yankees closer — a team known to inspire hatred in the 29 other fanbases. But Rivera, their record-setting, soon-to-retire bullpen stalwart is showing all of baseball what a class act he is.

    As part of his last lap around baseball stadiums, Rivera is doing a "farewell tour." It's not like the Cher farewell tour, where people pay 100 bucks to come bask in celebrity. It's Rivera talking to people behind the scenes in each park — the stadium employees, the grounds crew, the fans, the not-always-seen cogs in the baseball experience. It's a meet-and-greet with the ordinary folks, the people behind the baseball stars.

    He did one of these Wednesday in Cleveland, and according to the Associated Press, told the crowd of 25 at the hour-long gathering:

    "I appreciate what you guys do," Rivera said. "We see mostly what goes on when we're on the field and not what's going on behind the scenes. I wanted to say thank you for everything that you guys do, for the love and passion you have for your team. It doesn't matter if you are a Yankee fan or not. You are a baseball fan."

    In Cleveland, one of the people he met was John Adams, the fan who has been beating a drum at Indians games for 40 years. Rivera answered questions, telling folks that former Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez was the toughest hitter he faced and recalling memories of facing the dangerous Indians teams of the 1990s.

    The idea of a "farewell tour" is something Rivera, 43, said he wanted to do after he announced his retirement this spring. So the communications departments of the Yankees and the teams they're visiting confer and pick out some folks to meet with Mo.

    From the Wall Street Journal's story:

    "When I retired, I wanted to do something different, something that people don't see," Rivera said. "It doesn't always have to be the same on the field. There's a lot of other people that run the teams. They are here but we don't see them."

    He's already baseball's all-time saves leader, so it's not like Rivera is trying to impress anybody to get Hall of Fame votes or leave a lasting impression. But memories are being made, surely both for him and the people he's meeting. Consider this from the AP:

    Mary Forkapy has worked for the Indians since 1996, handling the team's payroll. She shook hands with Rivera, posed for a picture with his valuable right arm around her shoulder and accepted a baseball with the signature of the future Hall of Famer.

    "It was very genuine, very heartfelt, very nice," she said of her one-on-one time with Rivera. "He told me I was a very important person."

    So did this soften her hatred toward the Yankees?

    "A little," she said.

    Mariano Rivera will, no doubt, have plenty of opportunities when he leaves baseball. The way things are going with this tour, he might consider running for public office.
    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-bi...o-rivera-farew ell-tour-proves-one-baseball-class-221459446--mlb.html

    CLEVELAND—It is two hours before the scheduled start of Wednesday night's Yankees-Indians game, and baseball's all-time saves leader is deep inside the bowels of Progressive Field, holding a marching band's bass drum.

    Mariano Rivera wants to know how the drum's owner, John Adams, hits it when he's really mad.

    "When the Indians are supposed to score, and they don't score, how do you hit it?" Rivera asks.

    It isn't quite like that, explained Adams, who has been beating the drum at Indians games since 1973.

    Mariano Rivera before the Yankees' game Friday in Detroit.

    "When there are people who you'd really like to hit, but you can't, you imagine their faces are on there, and you hit it…It's a stress reliever for me. And you've given me a lot of stress!" Adams says, prompting a laugh from the 43-year-old Yankee closer.

    Rivera ate it up, laughing along with the famous drummer. But he also turned serious, telling Adams how much he respected his longevity and the contributions he has made to baseball in Cleveland.

    "Hey, man, I love you for a long time," Rivera said. "You're loyal. You've been here a long time. I really respect that. You've been here what, 40 years? I've been here for 19 of those."

    When he was done talking with Adams, Rivera moved through a crowd of Indians employees, one by one, hearing stories from people who had worked on the grounds crew, or in the offices, or in ticketing.

    It is the part of his yearlong retirement tour that he has come to cherish the most.

    When Rivera decided to retire, he announced that in each ballpark, he wanted to meet people behind the scenes—employees or fans or people connected to the game who don't get to tell their stories. He has spent a lifetime in the spotlight, the solitary figure in the middle of the mound. But as his baseball career enters his final months, Rivera has found pleasure in quiet moments with everyday people who perform the often thankless jobs of the baseball world.

    "When I retired, I wanted to do something different, something that people don't see," Rivera said. "It doesn't always have to be the same on the field. There's a lot of other people that run the teams. They are here but we don't see them."

    So before games in each road city, Rivera can be found deep in some back room, chatting it up with staffers from each club.

    They ask him questions—his favorite team (1998) toughest enemy hitter (former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez) or his first sporting love (soccer). But just as much, Rivera wants to hear from them—their memorable moments, their love of baseball, their favorite players.

    "I wanted to hear that," he said. "I wanted to hear what they think, and all of them were thankful."

    He spent close to an hour with 25 staffers in Cleveland, the second stop on Rivera's ballpark tour. In Detroit, Rivera met with a former Tigers groundskeeper, a U.S. Navy veteran, and a longtime season ticket holder.

    Before each series, Yankees director of communications and media relations Jason Zillo confers with his counterpart about the types of people Rivera wants to meet, and the clubs handpick the attendees.

    "He gave me the parameters, and until I screw up, he's letting me run with it," Zillo said, adding that they will vary the types of meetings in each city.

    There are still the unavoidable on-field ceremonies, where teams give Rivera framed pictures or jars of dirt. And Rivera is trying to enjoy those, though they make him uncomfortable. But the real pleasure of his final season is coming before the games, deep underneath the stands, hearing stories from the people he says have allowed him to flourish over the years.

    "This is what it is," Rivera said. "You want to be able to say thanks to these people. No one sees these people. You take the time to say thanks."
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...126864482.html
    Choo got it, dude.

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