Mariano Rivera’s new Hall-of-Fame teammates are a familiar crew

Mariano Rivera’s new Hall-of-Fame teammates are a familiar crew

Nothing can match the scene at Cooperstown’s lovely Otesaga Resort Hotel on Hall of Fame weekend, as legends golf, dine and swap stories on the veranda before heading to their big event. To be included among this ultra-exclusive group marks the game’s highest honor, and it must be intimidating for the newbies.

Fortunately for him, Mariano Rivera won’t join this club as a complete stranger.

When he officially enters the Baseball Hall on Sunday, the Yankees legend will find himself with 78 new, living teammates as part of his final professional classification. One of his fellow inductees, Mike Mussina, served as Rivera’s Yankees teammate from 2001 through 2008. Five previously honored Hall members worked alongside Rivera during his 19 seasons in a Yankees uniform.

Four of those five men agreed to share their memories, via telephone, of Rivera and publicly welcome him to their rare air. The fifth, Randy Johnson, declined to comment. They are listed here in the chronological order in when they became Rivera’s teammate.

Wade Boggs, 1995-97

When Rivera made his major league debut on May 23, 1995, at Anaheim Stadium, starting against the Angels, Russ Davis played third base. Yankees manager Buck Showalter rested his regular third baseman, the lefty-swinging Boggs, against Angels southpaw Chuck Finley. Five days later, at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Boggs manned the hot corner as Rivera notched his first win.

Boggs acknowledged not recalling much about Rivera’s run as a starting pitcher, except “it was brief,” he noted with a chuckle. Rivera made 10 career starts, all in his rookie season. Then Boggs witnessed Rivera’s emergence out of the bullpen in 1996, as the team won its first World Series title since 1978.

“The big thing was, he was just a bridge to [John] Wetteland,” Boggs said. “We sort of figured out, if we could get through the sixth with a lead, we had Mariano for the seventh and eighth and Wetteland for the ninth. It just shortens the game so much.”

It was during the 1997 season, Boggs’ last as a Yankee, when Rivera discovered his trademark cut fastball. Boggs witnessed it on the other side as he wound up his career with the Devil Rays.

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