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December 16, 2005

Mo Speaks!

From the The News-Times:

Rivera was being introduced in the high school auditorium as approximately 700 fans welcomed his appearance Thursday night on behalf of the Ridgefield Friends of Best Buddies.

"It's a pleasure for me to be here," Rivera said, speaking to a gathering comprised of wide-eyed little kids and gray-haired Yankee fanatics.

Considered the greatest closer of all time and a future Hall of Famer, Rivera took part in the fundraiser at the behest of Angelo Formisano, the Ridgefield High softball coach.

"I was here before, so he told me about it and I said, 'Yeah, of course.' If I can help make a kid smile and be happy, why not?" Rivera said during a brief interview.

"I always do the most that I can. It's an honor and my pleasure to do that. I've been blessed enough so I'd like to bless others," he added.

With patience, thoughtfulness and humor, Rivera answered questions from eager youngsters for more than an hour.

Kevin Schmidt, a 10-year-old from Newtown, asked the first question: "What do you do when you're not playing baseball?"

"Really, nothing," Rivera said with a smile. "I try to spend time with my family."

Someone asked Rivera to name the toughest batter he's faced.

"Edgar Martinez," he replied, referring to the former Seattle designated hitter. "He's retired, thank God."

His greatest memory? Winning his first World Series title in 1996.

"I'm proud to be a Yankee," he said, drawing loud applause.

His favorite sport?

"I love to play soccer. Don't tell George, though," he said, drawing laughter with his reference to the Yankees' owner, George Steinbrenner.

Rivera got serious when asked for any tips on becoming a major leaguer.

"First, stay in school," he said. "And if you have the dream, go for it."

And, to think, Mo managed all this without the need for an Antonio Belize by his side!

Posted by Steve Lombardi at December 16, 2005 04:31 PM