The same commitment, attention to detail and passion that served Mariano Rivera so well on his way to becoming perhaps the best relief pitcher in baseball history is yielding impressive results in his philanthropic efforts.
The former Yankees closer and future Hall of Famer has had relatively few idle hours in the early part of his retirement, choosing instead to devote his time to serving communities in the United States and Panama through his Mariano Rivera Foundation.
“I’m more busy than playing baseball,” Rivera told the New York Daily News on Tuesday (June 24) before his inaugural Mariano Rivera Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic & Dinner at the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. “In baseball, I just take a few minutes to do my job. Now it’s the whole day. That’s what I wanted to do, help as many people as I can.”
Rivera, who was selected as the 2013 Marvin Miller Man of the Year by his peers for inspiring them on and off the field, held the tournament to raise funds for charitable endeavors including Refugio de Esperanza (The Refuge of Hope) in New Rochelle, N.Y., a Christian church that the foundation has restored.
“For many years Mariano was a leader on the field, an icon, role model, and a family man always interested in helping others. Over time he won a couple of Players Choice grants from the Players Trust as well,” said Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield, who represented the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Players Trust at the tournament.
Rivera directed $70,000 in grants from the Players Trust to Refugio de Esperanza last fall when fellow players named him as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year and the AL’s Comeback player in 2013 Players Choice Awards balloting. Another $5,000 grant from the Players Trust in Mariano’s name was awarded to the Hospital Del Niños in Panama during the Yankee’s trip to play an exhibition game there this spring.
The star power in attendance at the tournament was a reflection of the goodwill the soft-spoken Rivera earned over a 19-year MLB career that was distinguished as much by his grace and dignity as his cut fastball.
Among the other celebrity golfers from the baseball community who lent their support to the foundation were former Yankees Cecil Fielder, David Wells, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry and Joe Torre, Winfield’s fellow Hall of Famers Rich (Goose) Gossage and Eddie Murray also participated.
“I was invited along with a dozen former players who all came to support what was a very successful first event,” said Winfield, who joined the Players Association staff in November as advisor to Executive Director Tony Clark. “As in many things the MLBPA and the Players Trust has achieved over the last 20 years, the unity and support I saw from the fraternity of players for both Mariano and his foundation was quite evident.”
Celebrities from outside the baseball community included boxer Gerry Cooney, Hall-of-Fame football player Harry Carson, former Knicks coaches Mike Woodson and Herb Williams, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Check out the gallery for more pictures