Throughout the stands, fans blinked back their own tears.
And after Rivera came off, Pettitte came out for his own curtain call before the bottom of the ninth as the Rays waited in their dugout, not wanting to interrupt the moment. Rays manager Joe Maddon is a longtime fan of Rivera's consistency, durability and quiet humility.
"They know how to do things here," he said. "They're great at pomp and circumstance in this place."
After the last out, Rivera remained on the bench for a moment as Frank Sinatra's recording of "New York, New York" played. He paused before taking a last walk to the mound, a man alone, rubbing his feet on the rubber, kneeling and gathering a bit of his workplace as a keepsake.
"I wanted to get some dirt, just stay there for the last time, knowing that I ain't going to be there no more," he said.
Rivera had entered with one out and two on in the eighth to a recorded introduction by Bob Sheppard, the longtime Yankees public address announcer who died three years ago.
Fans stood and chanted his name as he jogged in from the bullpen to Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Rivera was making his first appearance since the Yankees retired his No. 42 during a 50-minute ceremony Sunday. Eliminated from playoff contention, New York finishes the season with three games in Houston.
He'll always remember the home finale, along with the five World Series titles.
"It was amazing. A great, great night," he said and then paused. "We lost. I don't know how I'd be saying that."
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