UPPER EAST SIDE — Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera will be leaving the game following the 2013 season, the 43-year-old player announced Saturday morning.
Speaking at a press conference in the George M. Steinbrenner complex in Tampa, the team's spring training field, Rivera said he had made the decision to leave the Yankees and step down from the sport before training began this year, the AP reported.
When asked why now, Rivera said, "I have given everything," according to the NY Post, which first reported news of his retirement Thursday.
"The little gas that I have left, I’m going to give everything for this year. I’ll empty eveything. There’s nothing left. I did everything and I’m proud of it. That’s why," he said, the Post reported.
Within hours, sports fans across the city were finding ways to honor the pitching hero, who was dubbed "The Sandman" for being able to so reliably put a game to bed.
Fiona Heraty, a manager at Off The Rails, an Upper East Side bar, said the more die-hard Yankees fans had already concocted a new cocktail for the bar called "The Mo."
"It's a shot of Jameson's Irish whisky with a half-pint of Angry Orchard cider, with the shot of whisky placed in the glass of cider," she said.
For Heraty, the announcement was a sad one. "Mariano is my all time favorite Yankee. I have a signed picture of him at home that I adore," she said. "He's had the best arm as a closer for the last 20 years. He will be missed, but I think overall he can definitely justify his decision to retire."
A few blocks south at Marty O'Brien's, Elizabeth Hanna pulled out her own keepsake, a game ball, and clutched it as she talked about Rivera's speech with her friend, Pedro Regan, 44.
"This ball means the world to me," said Hanna. "It's making me very sad. He was the first (Yankee) closer that I saw after my mom died in 2008."
Regan added he especially admired what Rivera said at his press conference. "I watched his speech today, and he is just such a humble man," he said, consoling Hanna.
Rivera, who was drafted 23 years ago and has been regarded as the best reliever in baseball history, was joined by his teammates and family members at the announcement Saturday morning, reports said.
In 2011, Rivera broke the all-time saves record with his 602nd save, and he currently holds the record at 608.
He told reporters the ideal end to his lifetime Yankees career would be to help carry the Yankess to a World Series victory. He has already helped carry the team to five World Series triumphs.
"The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series,'' he said, according to the AP.
Frank Gomez, 42, a diehard Mets fan, said he could appreciate the surge of emotion surrounding him at Marty O'Brien's.
"Every bar on the Upper East Side — in fact every bar in Manhattan — is a Yankees' bar," he admitted.
"I'm surrounded by Yankees fans. But, he's a great player... even as a Mets fan I have to admire what he has done for baseball."