“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
– Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
NEW YORK — He is an old man who pitches alone on the mound in the great stadiums. And as he was going 339 days between taking a save when his knee betrayed him in Kansas City a year ago April and opening day this season, the sea roiled and his career tossed and the skiff filled.
But like Yankees fans who have been watching this genius at work for two decades, the old man never, ever did one thing. He never lost his faith.
It was only for the others to wonder and the cynics to question.
Always, in Mariano Rivera’s mind, there was going to be this encore. His faith remained as deep as the ocean that he once fished with his father as a young man. And not because Rivera needed the applause. Not because he needed the adulation.
But because of moments like this, on a Friday evening in June in Seattle, with a dozen or so high school and college kids circled around him, intently listening to what essentially is their own very private and very memorable commencement address: It is another chance for The Great Rivera to give back.