Mariano Rivera (born November 29, 1969) is a Panamanian right-handed baseball pitcher who has played 17 years in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees. Nicknamed "Mo", Rivera has served as a relief pitcher for most of his career, and since 1997, he has been the Yankees' closer. A 12-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, he is MLB's all-time leader in saves (603) and games finished (883). His accolades include five American League (AL) Rolaids Relief Man Awards, the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, and the 2003 AL Championship Series MVP Award.
Rivera was signed by the Yankees organization in 1990 as an amateur free agent in Panama, and he debuted in the major leagues in 1995. Initially a starting pitcher, he struggled in the role and was consequently converted to a relief pitcher. After a breakthrough season in 1996 as a setup man, he became the Yankees' closer in 1997. In the following years, he established himself as one of baseball's top relievers, leading the major leagues in saves in 1999, 2001, and 2004. Rivera's presence in the late innings of games to record the final outs has contributed to the Yankees' success in the late-1990s and 2000s, particularly in the postseason where he has set numerous records, including lowest earned run average (ERA) (0.70) and most saves (42). His pitching repertoire consists primarily of one pitch—a sharp-breaking, mid-90s mile per hour (mph) cut fastball that has been called an all-time great pitch.
Rivera is regarded by baseball experts as one of the most dominant relievers in major league history. Pitching with a longevity and consistency uncommon to the closer role, he has saved at least 25 games in 15 consecutive seasons and has posted an ERA under 2.00 in 11 seasons, both of which are records. His career 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP are the lowest marks in baseball's live-ball era. On the field, he is well known for his reserved demeanor and composure that contrast with the effusiveness of many of his peers. Off the field, he has been involved in charitable causes and the Christian community. Sportswriters anticipate Rivera will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame upon retirement.