Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump on Monday.
Rivera was honored with the nation's highest civilian honor at the White House after becoming the first player unanimously elected into the Hall of Fame earlier this year.
"He is the most dominant relief pitcher in the history of baseball, and more than that, he has lived the American dream and shines as an example of American greatness for all to see," Trump said.
The greatest closer in the history of the game, Rivera tallied an MLB all-time record 652 saves over the span of his 19-year career with the Yankees. Rivera won five American League Rolaids Relief Man Awards and three Delivery Man of the Year Awards, finishing in the top three in voting for the AL Cy Young Award four times.
Rivera was a key contributor to the Yankees' success in the late 1990s and 2000s as a 13-time All-Star. He was named the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player and the 2003 AL Championship Series MVP and holds an MLB-best 0.70 ERA in 141 postseason innings. He had 42 postseason saves and recorded the final out in the World Series on four separate occasions.
Rivera also has a history of friendship with Trump, whom he defended in July during an appearance on 'Fox & Friends.' Rivera responded to backlash stemming from a column that accused the former Yankees great of having "served at the pleasure of a racist president."
"He was a friend of mine before he became president," Rivera said. "So, because he's president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he's doing the best for the United States of America."
Rivera is co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition and has also served on the Opioid Drug Abuse Commission.