Despite being a rival, the best closer in MLB history will forever be respected by the Red Sox.

Photo Credit: Boston Globe

As a kid, it was pretty easy to identify the magnitude that Mariano Rivera had on the game of baseball. In the last half of the ninth inning, it was well recognized that the game was over when the Sandman entered the game. The best closer in baseball was about to take the mound and end whatever hopes the opposing team – often the Boston Red Sox – had left.

Until he didn’t.

In 2004, the Red Sox defeated the greatest closer in history en route to breaking the vaunted curse and coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS. Of course, we all know how the story went between the Dave Roberts steal and the RBI by Bill Mueller. However, it wasn’t truly until Opening Day in 2005 where Mariano showed his true colors.

The Red Sox were announcing both lineups, reigning boo’s over every announcement of a Yankees player – until they announced the closer.

It was in this moment that Mariano Rivera showed the true class that set him apart in the heat of the Red Sox / Yankees rivalry. There’s zero doubt that in the moment, Sox fans were hoping that he would blow every save opportunity that he had against Boston. However, that doesn’t take away from his first class personality.

On the mound, he was feared. Whether it was his Metallica walkout song, the 652 career saves, 2.21 ERA, and countless All Star honors, he was worthy of the unanimous selection to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

His accolades are countless, but his ability to always be a first class human being earned this Red Sox fan’s respect.

Congratulations to Mariano Rivera on behalf of Red Sox nation.