Yankees great Mariano Rivera tells students how to overcome failure

The New York Yankees were up 2-1 in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Just four outs from winning their fourth consecutive World Series title.

Mariano Rivera, baseball’s greatest closer, entered the game, closing out the eighth inning and looking to do the same in the ninth. Except 28 pitches later, Luis Gonzalez hit a game-winning, bases-loaded single over the head of Derek Jeter. The Diamondbacks won and Rivera quietly left the field.

“When we lost the World Series in 2001, I was like ‘God are you serious?’” Rivera said to The Ionian. “My faith was so high.”

It was one of many insights the five-time World Series champion and 13-time All-Star told Iona College at an event called Life Talk in September. Rivera revealed to the crowd that the unexpected loss in the World Series helped him learn the importance of overcoming failure.

“You are going to face people that criticize you. They are going to tell you that you are not good enough,” Rivera said to The Ionian. “It’s up to you if you take it or move forward and go after what you want.”

Rivera told the audience that he learned a valuable lesson from Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford, to only worry about the things he could control. But the greatest piece of wisdom was found in his faith in Christ, which he shared with his teammates throughout his 19-year career.

“Throughout my whole career, I had to learn to trust the Lord,” Rivera said to The Ionian. “He opened the door for me and I took it.”

Rivera retired from baseball in 2013 with a major league record of 652 career saves. His trust and belief in God helped him through the entire journey.

“I believe in Jesus Christ, and I cannot move without His direction,” he told Sports Spectrum in 2010. “That doesn’t mean that I’m a perfect man. Now I wish I could tell you that I’m perfect, but I’m not. But I’m always trying to please the Lord, and that’s my goal.”

From the Archives — Not Done Yet