President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera on Monday, in honor of his historic baseball career.
Rivera entered the White House East Room with Trump for the ceremony to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” the same song that he used as a walkup song during his career with the Yankees.
“Game after game, when his entrance song ‘Enter Sandman’ filled the arena, fans went wild knowing that the game was all but over,” Trump said. “His dominance on the mound mesmerized fans, teammates, and, unfortunately for them, it mesmerized the competitors.”
Trump said that First Lady Melania Trump asked him why the song was so important to Rivera’s legacy.
“Because he put the batter to sleep,” Trump recalled telling her. “’The Sandman’ A lot of people don’t know that, but the Yankee fans know that.”
Rivera is a five-time world series champion and is the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the sport.
He was elected by the first-ever unanimous vote into the National Baseball Hall of fame in July 2019.
Trump also referred to Rivera’s prominent work for American communities through his charitable foundation inspired by his Christian faith.
“Throughout Marino’s incredible career, he remained a humble man guided by a deep Christian faith that inspires everyone around him,” Trump said.
Rivera thanked President Donald Trump for the honor.
“All I did was try to be the best and try to do the best for America,” he said.
Born in Panama, Rivera told a story about his effort to learn English after coming to America to play baseball.
“By the end of the year, I was able to communicate with my manager and my teammates and I was the happiest man in baseball,” he said, adding that as immigrants, “learning Engish is the first thing we can do.”