New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera Has Eventful Final Visit to Oakland Coliseum

OAKLAND — Hours before he yielded Nate Freiman’s walk-off hit in the A’s 3-2 18-inning win over the Yankees on Thursday, longtime New York closer Mariano Rivera got a surfboard and a bottle of Napa Valley white wine as retirement gifts from the Oakland organization.

The pitcher was honored in a pregame ceremony at the Coliseum, the last scheduled visit for the 43-year-old Rivera as he plays his 19th major league season.

As Rivera’s “Enter Sandman” entrance music blared, A’s manager Bob Melvin and team president Mike Crowley presented the pitcher with the surfboard featuring his No. 42 and A’s and Yankees logos. The bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc from Groth Vineyards also has his uniform number and is engraved with a special design commemorating this three-game series.

Oakland also is donating $10,042 to Rivera’s foundation.

In all, it was an eventful final visit to Oakland for Rivera, who received a standing ovation when he entered Thursday’s game.

On Wednesday night, Rivera — posing as a pizza delivery man — surprised longtime A’s mailroom employee, Julie Vasconcellos, thanking her for all the hard work behind the scenes.

Rivera has made similar gestures of appreciation as he visits a city for the final time.

Rivera carried in a pizza box Wednesday night and brought Vasconcellos to tears as he thanked her for 2½ decades of hard work behind the scenes.

“This is my way to say thank you, thank you for what you do,” Rivera told Vasconcellos, who declined to give her age other than “old.” “Twenty-five years, Julie, that’s great! You’re special, Julie, that’s what it is. People here love you.”

Rivera signed a ball for Vasconcellos, gave her several hugs and posed for photos — then he stuck around to chat for another 10 minutes or so.

“Oh, my heart’s going to town, oh my God,” said Vasconcellos, who had to sit down at one point. “I’m shaking. … Oh, this is too funny, thank you.”

Rivera asked if she was OK, to which she responded, “I’m just shocked. I’m never going to forget your face again.”

He chuckled at that one.

The 43-year-old Rivera said this is the most creative display of appreciation yet during his farewell tour before he heads into retirement.

He’s doing similar things in each city, getting a thrill in each stop by making one person’s day.

“Oh, I love it, yes. I’m enjoying every minute,” Rivera said.

“They all have their own personality. I decided before spring training that I wanted to do something different and make sure I said thanks to the fans — not just the regular fans, but also those behind the scenes, like Julie, who has been here (more than) 20 years. That’s wonderful.”

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