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  • Yankee fans bid farewell to Rivera

    All-time saves leader pitches for final time at Yankee Stadium
  • NEW YORK — Mariano Rivera said goodbye to Yankee Stadium with hugs, tears and cheers.
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  • NEW YORK — Mariano Rivera said goodbye to Yankee Stadium with hugs, tears and cheers.
    Baseball's most acclaimed relief pitcher made an emotional exit in his final appearance in the Yankees' home pinstripes, when captain Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came to the mound to remove him with two outs in the ninth inning of a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
    "It's time to go," Jeter appeared to tell Rivera.
    During four minutes of thunderous chanting from the sellout crowd 48,675, an overcome Rivera sobbed as he buried his head on the right shoulder of Pettitte, who also is retiring when the season ends Sunday. Pettitte gave Rivera a 30-second bear hug, and Jeter followed with a 15-second embrace.
    Rivera, who turns 44 in November, said he had trouble controlling himself on the mound during the ninth inning for the first time since he left Panama and embarked on a professional baseball career in 1990.
    "I was bombarded with emotions and feeling that I couldn't describe," he said after the game, flanked by his wife and three sons. "Everything hit at that time. I knew that was the last time. Period. I never felt like that before."
    Yankees manager Joe Girardi, his voice cracking from emotion after the game, said he conceived the idea in the eighth inning.
    "I've never seen a player pull another player, so I had to ask. And then one of them was on the DL," he said.
    Girardi asked plate umpire Laz Diaz before the ninth, and Diaz consulted with crew chief Mike Winters.
    "Then I said, 'Well, can I send two?' and they said, 'Well, go ahead.' And I really appreciate because I think it made the moment even more special for Mo."
    At first, Pettitte didn't think it was a good idea. Then he got to the mound and quickly decided "it was awfully cool." The three players have known each other since they were in the minors in 1990, and all three came up to the Yankees for the first time in 1995.
    "I didn't say anything at first, and I didn't expect for him to be quite so emotional," Pettitte said. "He broke down and just gave me a bear hug and I just bear-hugged him back. He was really crying. He was weeping, and I could feel him crying on me."
    Rivera had retired Delmon Young, Sam Fuld, Jose Lobaton and Yunel Escobar on 13 pitches — the overall 465th perfect outing of his career. He had gone to the trainer's room in the Yankees clubhouse after the top of the eighth instead of remaining in the dugout.
    "Everything started hitting from there. All the flashbacks from the minor leagues to the big leagues, all the way to this moment," he said.
    When he walked off the mound for the final time with two outs in the top of the ninth in the famous, final scene, he wiped his eyes with both arms and blew a kiss to the first row behind the Yankees dugout. He hugged a tearful Girardi in the dugout, grabbed a towel to dab his own tears, and came out again and doffed his cap to the crowd. All the while, the Rays remained in their dugout applauding.
    "I thought it was pretty cool. I've never taken a pitcher out before," Jeter said.
    "We've all grown up together," he said. "It's too bad good things have to come to an end."
    Eliminated from playoff contention, the Yankees finish the season with three games in Houston.
    The oldest player in the major leagues, Rivera posted 314 of his record 652 saves at home during a 19-year big league career, and 18 of his record 42 postseason saves were at the old and new Yankee Stadium.
    Rivera helped the Yankees to five World Series titles, getting the final out in four of them.
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