“The Closer” by Mariano Rivera and Wayne Coffey
Baseball, Yankees, autobiography
May 6, 2014
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
From humble beginnings as the son of a fisherman in Panama to becoming, according to most, the best relief pitcher in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera tells his story in “The Closer.” This book is much like many other memoirs written by players with assistance from professional writers in that the player looks back fondly at his playing days and many of the teammates and other people who helped him become a star in his chosen sport.
However, what makes this autobiography stand out is that Rivera shows that his persona as a member of the New York Yankees, humble and thankful for his talent, is who he really is as a person. This is brought out by his frequent references to two topics that are important parts of his life. They are his faith in the Lord and the devotion to his wife Clara. Rivera often refers to his faith as his means of dealing with awful occurrences (9/11 and the loss of two family members due to electrocution in a swimming pool), trying to come to grips with understanding others (use of PED’s for example) or even just how he keeps his work ethic and how he deals with low points of his career, such as the seventh game of the 2001 World Series.
His devotion to Clara is also evident throughout the book as well. He does consult and pray with her for many personal issues. One touching part that struck me was when he wanted to take a leave of absence from the Yankees on a road trip to attend his son’s elementary school graduation. The manager, Joe Torre, didn’t want to approve but knew that he couldn’t stop Rivera if that is what he wanted to do. Rivera turned to Clara for assistance in making the decision and thanked her for that and everything else she did for him during their marriage. By the way – Rivera stayed with the team for the road trip.
Rivera doesn’t talk a lot about controversial topics such as PED’s but when he does express an opinion in the book; he is open and honest and doesn’t care about the reaction. The best example of this is when he stated that he would like to have Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox as the second baseman on his team. This upset many Yankee fans – how dare a lifetime Yankee player say a RED SOX player is the best? But Rivera just was honest in his opinion on this topic as he was with any other one.
The book follows his chronological path during his youth, his tryout with the Yankees in Panama and his storied Yankee career. He doesn’t get too detailed in recounting seasons and even skims or ignores milestones he achieved. The game in 2011 in which he became the all time saves leader is worth two paragraphs. Yet, he moves the reader in which he gracefully and humbly acknowledges all that he has done and praises teammates and foes alike. Some of these passages are heart-tugging. I admit that my eyes moistened when he recalled being removed from the game in his last Yankee Stadium appearance in 2013 by teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter. He was sobbing in their arms on the mound and his recollection in the book of that moment is one that the reader will know is truly heartfelt and emotional.
The entire book is a great read for baseball fans, especially Yankee fans. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to read about not only one of the greatest players to ever play the game, but also one of the best human beings to play the game as well.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
Excellent. Because Rivera doesn’t break down every detail of his childhood, his personal life or each season he pitched for the Yankees, the reader will move through the book with amazing speed.
Do I recommend?
Yes. Whether the reader is a baseball fan, one who likes to read biographies or memoirs or even just to read about someone who is true to his faith, this book will be a fine choice.
Book Format Read: