He is known as the Sandman, the Hammer of God, the Great One and many more nicknames which were started on the field. He was relief pitcher to the Yankees, and now he will also be known as the seventh athlete to have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by US President Donald Trump. This is only part of the legacy of the Panamanian-American baseball legend.
Being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honour which the civilians of the US can receive. The medal was handed over to Rivera on Monday during a ceremony at the White House. It was a glorious moment, celebrating the career of this legend when both Rivera and Trump walked up with the song by Metallica, Enter Sandman, playing in the background. This song has always been the pitcher’s signature song.
During the ceremony, Trump spoke about Rivera in the highest regard. He made special mention of Rivera’s exceptional contribution to the American culture, sports and society as a whole. The history of the game reflects Rivera to be the most dominating relief pitcher in baseball. Trump stated that Rivera is someone who has truly lived the American dream and that he is a shining example of when people refer to American greatness. Trump further on commented with praise on Rivera’s religion as a Christian, and he complimented him on his abilities and the way he played.
The 49-year-old was born in Panama City. Rivera debuted in Major League Baseball during 1995. This was after he spent five years in the minor leagues. He played for a total of 19 seasons in Major League Baseball before retiring, and he played his entire career for the New York Yankees. The lists of awards and highlights to his name is long and complicated. He was All-Star player for 13 times during his career and led the New York Yankees to victory five times during the World Series. He is also holding the record for MLB with 652 career saves. Rivera also made the record books when he became the first in the history of baseball to be unanimously voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In his remarks, Rivera thanked God, and then he thanked his family. He considers receiving the award as a privilege and an honour, while he stated that all he ever did was always to try to be the best at what he did and to be the best he could be for America. He further also urged immigrants that came to the United States to take seriousness with learning English as their priority when they enter the country.
Currently, Rivera is filling the position of co-chair at the President’s Council of Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. Rivera has always been open about his Christianity as well as his respect and support for Trump. The medal is awarded to people who made a worthy contribution to the national interest of the US or towards world peace, or who made a significant cultural, public or private endeavour.