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Mariano Rivera (Grade 5)

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Mariano Rivera

"I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower."

That’s how one of major league baseball’s greatest-ever relievers described his job as a New York Yankees’ pitcher. As a player, Rivera was renowned for his ability to save a game for his team in the final inning by shutting down the opponents’ batters. A multiple major league baseball record holder, Rivera has matched his on-field performance with the charitable work he does off the field.

Rivera played for the New York Yankees for 19 seasons from 1995 to 2013. He dominated hitters with a fastball which he routinely threw at 94, 95, and 96 miles per hour. He not only managed to generate tremendous speed on his pitches, but significant movement of the ball. His cut fastball, which to the batter appeared to be coming straight through the strike zone would at the last second curve to the left, leaving batters to helplessly flail at the ball.

Rivera helped the Yankees win five World Series titles, and in the 1999 World Series, he was named Most Valuable Player. He holds the league record for the most saves recorded with 652. Rivera also appeared in 13 all-star games, and, in 2019, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Another Hall of Fame pitcher, Goose Gossage, said Rivera's composure under stress was because of the "ice water in his veins." Speaking about his ability to remain focused under pressure, Rivera said, "When you start thinking, a lot of things will happen... If you don't control your emotions, your emotions will control your acts, and that's not good."

Rivera was born in Panama in 1969. He became a devout Christian at age 21 after having what he calls a “born-again” experience. He says his Christian faith compels him to do good unto others as Jesus did. Rivera believes that God has a reason for everything that happens. His pitching glove was inscribed with "Phil. 4:13", a reference to the Bible verse, Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me").

His Christian faith is the reason for the charitable work he has established since retiring from baseball. His work in Panama includes building an elementary school and providing Christmas gifts to children. In his adopted home of the United States, Rivera has created scholarships for students, held golf tournaments to benefit a hospital, given backpacks with school supplies to children, and distributed turkey dinners during the holiday season.

Rivera has also excelled in the area of public service. He served on the Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission and is co-chair of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. In 2019, Rivera was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award that can be bestowed upon a person by the United States government.
In which two areas of his life has Mariano Rivera produced major accomplishments?

What is the highest civilian award that can be bestowed upon a person by the United States government?                                                                                                                                     
What do you think the phrase "ice water in his veins" means?

What made Rivera's pitches so hard to hit?

Do you think you could hit one of Mariano Rivera's pitches? Explain why or why not.

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