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42 For 42: Mariano Rivera’s 37th Greatest Moment – Mo Signs His First Contract

In life, whether you are the CEO of a big corporation, a famous actor, or a star athlete, you have to get your start somewhere. That is the focus of moment number 37 of our 42 For 42 countdown, when Mariano Rivera got his start in baseball by signing his first contract all the way back in 1990.

Rivera, from Panama, originally wanted to be a professional soccer player but was not cut out for it. He picked up baseball, joining an amateur team in Panama City as a shortstop. He was noticed by Herb Raybourn, director of Latin American operations for the New York Yankees, who saw that he was athletic enough to play the game, but not as a shortstop.

Then, fate intervened, as Rivera volunteered to pitch for the team, impressing his teammates who contacted the Yankees to tell them about Mo’s talent on the mound. They invited him to a tryout in Panama City.

While Rivera was nowhere near the polished pitching machine he is today, he had enough raw talent to impress Raybourn, who signed him to a $3,000 amateur contract to join a rookie ball squad affiliated with the Yankees.

Today, players in the NBA Developmental League make a minimum of $13,000, many of which will never be good enough to see an NBA court. Just put that into perspective when thinking about the fact that Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, was once only worth a quarter of that amount when he started his professional baseball career.

Now, Mariano Rivera makes $10,000,000 per year with the Yankees, which is 3,333 times more than he made on that first contract back in 1990. Without being discovered over 23 years ago, none of the other moments in this countdown would have ever happened, and baseball would have been robbed one of the greatest players in its history.

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