Metallica played a not-so-surprising visit to Yankee Stadium in New York on Sunday to honor pitcher Mariano Rivera, whose number 42 was ceremonially retired that day. The pitcher, now in his 19th pitching season, has entered the field of play to the strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” since 1999. The band was on-hand to play the song in tribute to the pitcher, with frontman James Hetfield declaring as the familiar song began “This one’s for you, Mariano!”
Rivera, who has spent his entire major league career with the Yankees organization, is baseball’s career saves leader.
Metallica’s presence at the ballpark had been rumored for weeks, with a show at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater on Saturday seeming to confirm that their presence would be made at the ballpark. The focus of the ceremony was clearly on Rivera, with Metallica playing on a mini stage while the pitcher took his customary walk from the bullpen to the pitching mound. Metallica members gave Rivera an autographed speaker with the number 42, "Metallica," and “Sandman” on the front.
Part of what made the tune such a successful theme for Rivera to take the field to had to do with its timing. For the first 1:10 of the song – about the time it took for Rivera to walk to the mound – the opening guitar strains build tension. Then, at about the time Rivera would begin his warmup pitches, Hetfield’s voice would bark the opening words “Say your prayers little one!”
“It’s been a great run, guys,” Rivera told the fans. “You guys have been amazing. You will always be part of my heart.”