Arguably the most dominate relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera, looks to be set to retire after this season. If he does, he is leaving the sport as one of the most marketable athletes in baseball. Last year, Nielsen Wire had him ranked number two behind Jeter. Not only was he consistent in his performance on the field, but in how he showcased his core values in his daily life.
It is because of what he stands for that makes him so marketable – Faith, Philanthropy, Leadership and Community. Combining values like these with an immense skill level at his sport and an approachable personality, one can see why his success will continue on post career. There is a lot that individuals in the sports and business world can learn from him to achieve their own success.
To make an impact, action must be taken
Speaking zero English when he started with the Yankees organization in 1990, it is amazing to see the impact he has had with regards to language issues within baseball over the past 17 years. He became an activist for media to learn Spanish and have translators present during interviews, while at the same time encouraging Latino athletes to learn English to maximize their opportunities within the league.
Always keep the faith
For those with faith, don’t shy away from being open about it’s importance in your life.
His calm demeanor comes from faith at his core. This is a man whose pitching glove is inscribed with Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who is strengthening me.” and showcases his faith through his actions as much as through words. In a 2011 ESPN article by Howard Bryant, Rivera describes where he believes his greatness comes from -
“It’s faith,” he said. “Faith isn’t something that you decide to have. You don’t wake up and say, ‘Today, I’m going to have faith.’ It’s a process. I would never, ever be here in the big leagues without my faith. Ability, you have to have ability and you have to have talent, but I’m telling you, my talent wasn’t enough. God brought me here.”
Give back in areas/locations of which you are passionate or have personal ties
His philanthropic work through the Mariano Rivera foundation focuses on giving back to those in need in his native Panama and the US with a focus on the state of New York. He has developed an elementary school, two computer houses, and restored a Christian church in Panama. He donates actively in his church in New York, and this past Thanksgiving he and his wife hosted 42 kids and their families at his restaurant, Mo’s New York Grill, providing them a sense of community at a time of need. It’s also worth noting, as ProCause did, that Mariano prefers the discreet form of charitable giving.
Acknowledge your team
No individual ever achieved greatness alone.
For Mariano, team always comes before the individual, and he has proven his loyalty to New York, and the Yankee organization, time and time again. Whether as a team leader who mentors young players, his work in the community, or through referencing team efforts before ever acknowledging his own, Mariano is a role model for the younger generation.
The sports world needs more Mariano Riveras. If he does retire after this season, his presence on the field will be missed, but I have no doubt he will continue making an impact.
Katie Marston is President and Executive Director of DYME Branding , a personal brand development company focusing on professional athletes, celebrities, and executives. Follow her on Twitter at @ktmarston