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  • Faith: Christian
  • Career: Athlete
  • Birthday:  November 29, 1969

Mariano Rivera is a former professional baseball pitcher who played 19 seasons in the MLB for the New York Yankees from 1995 to 2013. Nicknamed “Sandman” and “Mo,” he spent most of his career as a relief pitcher and served as the Yankees’ closer for 17 seasons. A 13-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, Rivera is MLB’s career leader in saves and games finished. He won five American League Rolaids Relief Man Awards and three Delivery Man of the Year Awards and finished in the top three for the AL Cy Young Award four times.

Rivera was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its class of 2018 in his first year of eligibility and is, to date, the only player ever to be elected unanimously by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Raised in the modest Panamanian fishing village of Puerto Caimito, Rivera was an amateur player until he was signed by the Yankees organization in 1990. He debuted in the major leagues in 1995 as a starting pitcher before permanently converting to a relief pitcher late in his rookie year. After a breakthrough season in 1996 as a setup man, Rivera became the Yankees’ closer in 1997.

In the following seasons, he established himself as one of baseball’s top relievers, leading the major leagues in saves in 1999, 2001, and 2004. Rivera primarily threw a sharp-moving, mid-90s mile-per-hour cut fastball that frequently broke hitters’ bats and earned a reputation as one of the league’s most challenging pitches to hit. With his presence at the end of games, signaled by his foreboding entrance song, “Enter Sandman,” Rivera was a key contributor to the Yankees’ success in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

An accomplished postseason performer, he was named the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player and the 2003 AL Championship Series MVP, and he holds several postseason records, including the lowest earned run average and most saves. Rivera is regarded as one of the most dominant relievers in major league history. Pitching longevity and consistency uncommon to the closer role, he saved at least 25 games in 15 consecutive seasons and posted an ERA under 2.00 in 11 seasons, both of which are records. When he retired, his career 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP were the lowest in the live-ball era among qualified pitchers. Fellow players credit him with popularizing the cut fastball across the major leagues.

What religion is Mariano Rivera?

Rivera is a devout Christian. During his childhood, neither he nor his family attended church, but after a born-again experience when he was 21, Rivera became religious and converted from Catholicism to a Pentecostal faith. His parents followed his lead after seeing the difference it made in him. Rivera believes that God has a reason for everything that happens. For example, he found his failure in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series easier to deal with when he learned of the consequences it had for teammate Enrique Wilson.

Had the Yankees won the series, Wilson would’ve stayed in New York for the championship parade and would’ve departed for his native Dominican Republic on American Airlines flight 587, which crashed after takeoff and killed all 260 people aboard. His pitching glove was inscribed “Phil. 4:13,” in reference to the Bible verse Phllipians 4:13.

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