Dreams do come true, but in order to reach them we must give 100% of ourselves. We must do the right thing, because we not only represent our family, but we represent our race and the country we come from. My name is Mariano Rivera, I am from Panama, from a small fishing town called Puerto Caimito. I became a professional baseball player. I played for the New York Yankees and together we accomplished many things for the team as well as for the city. I am very proud of all of our achievements.
My father was a fisherman his whole life, I grew up in a healthy environment. I loved going to the beach, playing sports, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. I have always loved sports, even when I was very little. I liked baseball and soccer. But my passion was soccer. I wanted to be the next Pele. I suffered a lot of injuries playing soccer: my knee, my ankles. So, when I was 18 years old, I decided to solely focus on playing baseball.
My big break came when I was 20 while I was playing a baseball game in the neighborhood. We had to win that game and our best pitcher was having a bad day. Our team didn’t have any other pitchers, so I ended up pitching for the remainder of the game. After the game, the center fielder and the catcher were in my house waiting for me, so I asked them “what are you doing here?” and they said: “we just secured a tryout with the Yankees for you”
When I left my country for the first time, I had never been on a plane. I experienced mixed emotions. There was happiness, as I was going to do what I loved the most, but there was also nostalgia because I was leaving my family and did not know what to expect. It was the first time I was apart from my family for an extended period of time. I did not speak English, and everything was in English, so it was very difficult. It was challenging from the very first moment.