It was Independence Day 1995 on the South Side of Chicago, and Mariano Rivera followed the familiar pattern that would eventually earn him unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame: three outs and a zero on the scoreboard. Except on this afternoon, the Yankees right-hander did it eight
It was Independence Day 1995 on the South Side of Chicago, and Mariano Rivera followed the familiar pattern that would eventually earn him unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame: three outs and a zero on the scoreboard. Except on this afternoon, the Yankees right-hander did it eight times.
Prior to a shift to the bullpen that would result in a Major League-record 652 saves, that performance on the Fourth of July marked Rivera’s finest outing as a Yankees starting pitcher, as he allowed just two hits and struck out 11 White Sox over eight scoreless frames. The YES Network will premiere a special Yankees Classics presentation showcasing the game, “Mariano Rivera: Enter Sandman,” on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
YES will enhance the telecast by embedding new commentary from Rivera, then-Yankees manager Buck Showalter, Bernie Williams (the Yankees’ center fielder that day) and Robin Ventura (who played third base and batted cleanup for the White Sox).
Rivera, Showalter, Williams and Ventura -- along with YES’ current Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay, who was WABC Radio’s Yankees analyst in 1995 -- were interviewed for the special by Jack Curry, YES’ current Yankees reporter, who covered that ‘95 game for The New York Times.
“That was a special day for me, as everything seemed to fall into place,” Rivera said. “It was my first start since I was brought up again from Columbus, so I had a lot to prove. Who would have known at that time that it would end up being the highlight of my career as a Yankees starter?”
Future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas notched the only hits of the day off Rivera, who threw 129 pitches over eight innings before John Wetteland relieved him to record the final three outs of the Yankees’ 4-1 victory.
Ventura said that the White Sox were caught off guard that day in part because, in their pre-series scouting meeting, they had been advised to sit on the prospect’s changeup.
“I think what happened was [the White Sox] read off Ramiro Mendoza’s scouting report and mixed it up with Mariano’s report,” Ventura told YES. “Looking back on it, I think we all looked back at it the next day, saying, ‘They totally gave us the wrong report.’”
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.