New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera made history when he became the first person unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class. Sunday’s (July 21) induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York, made it official. The native-Panamian was one of six new members, including Chicago White Sox hitter Harold Baines and the Seattle Mariners’ designated hitter and third baseman Edgar Martinez. This also marks the first time that two Latinx athletes have been inducted simultaneously. The election of Rivera and Martinez brings the number of Latinx Hall of Famers to 15.
At the ceremony, Rivera paid tribute to his family and to his athletic idols in front of an audience of 53,000 people.
“As a young boy, in my beautiful Panama, I wanted to be the next Pelé,” Rivera said during his speech yesterday. “It wasn’t about no Babe Ruth or Lou Garret, I wanted to be a Pelé. Pelé is a superstar, a soccer superstar. So every child in a [Latinx] country want to be the next Pelé. But I was not good enough.” He was, however, good enough to play baseball and so he tried out for the Yankees at age 20 in his home country.
Watch Rivera’s full speech here.