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Volume 24 No. 156
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Mariano Rivera Continues Unique Farewell Tour Focused On Team Personnel, Fans

Yankees P Mariano Rivera in his final MLB season has "embarked on an unusual tour of American League cities, meeting with ordinary, behind-the-scenes workers and some fans, who drive the machinery of baseball," according to a front-page piece by David Waldstein of the N.Y. TIMES. In stadium conference rooms and offices, Rivera "thanks rival fans, charms them, regales them, awes them." He is an "emissary of good will" and has "unintentionally become the Yankees’ most successful ambassador since Babe Ruth." Rivera a few years ago asked Yankees Dir of Communications & Media Relations Jason Zillo "how he could do something thoughtful and memorable in his final season." Rivera "ultimately decided he wanted to express appreciation for the many people in baseball who were not highly paid players, and to learn more about their lives and work." The idea is to "meet with people during the Yankees’ last stop in each city they regularly visit." Although a "basic format has evolved, Rivera and Zillo have varied it occasionally to keep it fresh." Rivera "meets the people in casual settings." As he "chats with secretaries, custodians, community-relations workers and long-serving press box attendants," he is "relaxed and engaging." Zillo informs a host team "what Rivera has in mind and allows the team to decide whom to invite." When Zillo "gives him a list of attendees, Rivera goes over it as if examining scouting reports on opposing hitters." High-ranking team execs so far "have not been invited." Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said, "I was wildly intrigued with the concept. ... Mo has gone around telling the fans and the people behind the scenes how much he adores them. That’s unheard-of" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/16).