I caught part of the Blue-Jays-Yankees pre-game Thursday night, in time to catch members of the Jays presenting Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with what appeared to be an odd gift. Take a look.
The sculpture depicts a man in a canoe reeling in a giant fish. But upon further review, there is a real, significant meaning behind what the Blue Jays offered. The sculpture is something purely Canadian, an Inuit piece of art. It was designed by Toronto-based Inuit artist David Piqtoukun, and is entitled “Kiviuq’s Journey — The Angakok and the Eqalookpuk”. It is made of Brazilian soapstone, with a mirror underneath meant to represent water.
The sculpture depicts a moment in the legend of Kiviuq — a hero’s tale in Inuit mythology akin to the Odyssey or Iliad — in which Kiviuq finally catches a giant fish after a long and arduous wrestle with the creature. According to the artist, this captured moment is meant to showcase Kiviuq’s struggle and ultimate triumph over enormous odds because of his singular determination.
When fully explained, it’s actually a really cool memento to pay homage to Rivera’s career.
All of this got me wondering about what other teams have given Rivera during the course of his farewell tour. Having announced prior Opening Day that this season would be his last, seventeen teams thus have chosen to present Rivera with some form of retirement gift before he rides off into the sunset. I’ve briefly listed each of those gifts here, in the order in which they were given.
Detroit Tigers (April 7)
Plaque with photos and bottles of dirt from the pitcher’s mount at both Old Tigers Stadium and Comerica Park.
Donation to Rivera’s charity. The Rockies dressed their presentation up a bit, having their big purple dinosaur mascot present Mo with an oversized check to memorialize the gift.
Undisclosed donation to Rivera’s charity.
Cleveland Indians (May 13)
Gold record of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, Rivera’s entrance music.
Mounted fire hose nozzle and call box.
$5,000 Donation to Rivera’s charity.
Oakland Athletics (June 13)
Surf board, bottle of white whine, and $10,042 donation to Rivera’s charity.
Oil painting of Rivera delivering a pitch.
A chair made out of broken bats (dubbed the “Chair of Broken Dreams”) and $10,000 donation to Rivera’s charity.
Inscribed cowboy boots, cowboy hat and $5,000 donation to Rivera’s charity.
Custom fishing pole and a $10,000 donation to Rivera’s charity.
Five beach cruiser bicycles for Rivera and his family.
Two framed scorecards: one from Rivera’s first appearance at Chicago’s Comiskey Park and one from the first game played after 9/11, and a $4,200 donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Sand sculpture and $3,150 donation to Rivera’s charity ($50 for every save he earned against Tampa Bay in his career).
Bronzed broken bat and baseball.
Painting of Rivera from 2005 Opening Day, bullpen rubber, the No. 42 placard used on the scoreboard when Rivera would enter a game at Fenway to pitch, a 1934 blue seat numbered 42, and a donation to Rivera’s charity. A quartet of cellos played Rivera’s entrance music, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, before the Red Sox broadcast one of Rivera’s few career lowlights. On the video b oard, they showed highlights of Rivera’s blown save in Game 4 of the 2004 AL championship series that allowed Boston to come back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees and advance and win their first World Series in 86 years.
Inuit sculpture depicting a man in a canoe reeling in a giant fish, and $10,000 donation to Rivera’s Charity.