NEW YORK -- After 17 seasons and five World Series championships with the Yankees, Mariano Rivera is accustomed to closing in New York. With some spare time while he continues to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Rivera shifted his attention to something new. On Wednesday, he traveled into the heart of downtown Manhattan and, with the ring of a bell and the pound of a gavel, opened the New York Stock Exchange.
"This has been a wonderful experience," Rivera said. "It was a privilege for me to be here. It's a great event. The relationship the New York Stock Exchange has with the New York Yankees is wonderful."
Rivera has played every one of his 18 seasons in New York on his journey to become Major League Baseball's all-time leader in saves. Even still, Wednesday was a unique opportunity for the likely first-ballot Hall of Famer. The trip was his first to the New York Stock Exchange, so before ringing the bell, he took time to ask questions about its history, then lauded it after as one of the fundamental institutions of New York City.
"The history of the place, over 100 years, and it has been kept in good shape," Rivera said. "It's wonderful. That says a lot."
While on his road to recovery, Rivera is keeping busy with his therapy and assisting in the remodeling project of a local church in Curacao. But on Wednesday, he set aside his routine schedule because he couldn't say no to accepting one of Wall Street's highest honors.
While the decision to attend the ceremony wasn't hard, Rivera doesn't like to get away from his therapy too much. His doctors have praised his work ethic over the last 2 1/2 months and acknowledged there's a chance he could come back this season in what would be a remarkable recovery from the injury he suffered on May 3.
At the Stock Exchange, Rivera wouldn't speculate as to when or if he'd be back with the team this season, partly because he didn't want to elevate his personal hopes. He did mention he is ahead of schedule in his therapy.
"Believe it or not, I don't want to know," Rivera said of his chances of returning to the mound this season. "I don't want to put things in my mind. If it happens, I'll be OK, but if it doesn't happen, I'll be kind of disappointed."
When Rivera stepped down from the balcony, over which he looked out at the Stock Exchange and the crowds of workers who had gathered to catch a glimpse of him ringing the bell, he created a commotion. The cluster of supporters showered him with praise and get-well wishes.
For some players, the swarm of fans could have been overwhelming. Not for Rivera. He knows New York. He's learned how to handle the hoards of attention and channel it into a positive commodity.
"When you receive all this kind of love, it makes you continue," Rivera said. "It makes you keep going. You want to give back the same love that you're receiving."
Ethan Asofsky is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.