Street Renaming in the Bronx Honors Mariano Rivera

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY—A very diverse crowd gathered on the northwest corner of 161 Street and River Avenue in front of Yankee Stadium in the late morning of Monday, May 5. A large number of reporters and camera operators were present to cover the event.

At approximately 11;30 am, the voice of the late Yankee Public Address announcer Bob Sheppard could be heard clearly enunciating “Now coming in #42 Mariano Rivera.” At that momennt, Rivera and his wife, Clara, were exiting Yankee Stadium through gate 6. Immediately the two were besieged by fans and photographers who surrounded them as they were walking.

When the couple were seated on the platform with the other dignitaries, the official program began. Thomas Ferrera, an articulate, self-described lifelong Yankee fan, served as emcee. Ferrera spearheaded the campaign to change the name of River Avenue on 161 Street to Rivera Avenue to honor the legendary Yankee closer.

The first speaker, LonnTrost, the Yankees COO, used a discussion with his wife as a means of informing those in the crowd of the many accomplishments of Rivera on the baseball field and the honors deservedly accorded to him for his achievements. He said closer is the only position in baseball in which there can be no argument or debate as to who is the best, “Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball.”

Children from the Highbridge Advisory Council Headstart then led the crowd in the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Several elected officials (politicians)were present Councilmembers Arroyo and Gibson, as well as representatives of Council Speaker Viverito, Borough President Diaz and Mayor DeBlasio.

Special note should be taken of one, Congressman Jose Serrano. Not only is he a long-term member of Congress working hard for the residents of his district in the South Bronx, but he is a knowledgeable baseball, specifically Yankee fans. Serrano was wearing a Yankee jacket and his business card is in the form of a baseball card. Unlike many other pols, Serrano can be seen at Yankee Stadium for reasons other than photo ops. Of Rivera, he said, “Mariano is special. I’m sorry to see him go. Someone so special should last forever.”

The name change of the street was approved by the City Council by a vote of 47-0-2 on December 10, 2013 and signed into law one week later by mayor Bloomberg.

Cary Goodman, the executive director of the 161st Street BID (Business Improvement District) opined, “It was a long campaign but we’re here.” Goodman was an integral part of the success of the name change being approved as he is in every positive enterprise in the 161 Street neighborhood. His presence in the area is a great benefit to the businesses and the residents.

As if he were again on the baseball field, the proceedings closed after Rivera’s successful performance.

For those who are only familiar with Rivera as a ballplayer, listening to his recital of thanks one can realize his high level of decency, religious devotion and humility, “I want to thank God, above all. I want to thank my wife, who’s put up with me for the 23 years of my career. I want to thank the New York Yankees for letting me play for 19 years. I want to thank this beautiful community of the Bronx. I want to thank you guys, the fans. You were there. Without you, it would have been harder. I thank you for every effort you made. You worked harder than me. I only tried to do my job. God bless you!”

Rivera then climbed a ladder to unveil the new street sign of Rivera Avenue.

howardg53@yahoo.com