I must admit, I was fairly surprised to see Mariano Rivera elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 100% of the total votes. This made him the first unanimous inductee in Hall of Fame history.
Nothing against Mo, but we've seen legends like Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and all-time greats like Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth fall short of receiving 100% of the votes.
The Hall has been reluctant to induct relievers on the first ballot, hence why guys like Trevor Hoffman and Goose Gossage weren't elected into Cooperstown right away.
However, all the past reluctance to elect relievers and closers into Cooperstown was eradicated last Tuesday when Rivera made history.
Some are saying that it couldn't have happened to a better guy, although it should have happened before. I suppose I agree with that as I have nothing bad to say about the 13-time All-Star.
As far as my player collections go, Rivera is near the top with a current grand total of exactly 80 cards. I always seem to bring back some Rivera cards from each one of my trips to the Baseball card show, so I'm feeling pretty confident that his player collection will reach the 100-card mark sometime this year.
Now, here are my 5 favorite cards of the greatest relief pitcher of all-time.
#5 2012 Topps All-Time Saves Leader
I really do love cards like this, featuring photos tributes or gifts being given to certain exceptional players. David Ortiz has a card similar to this from 2017 Topps Stadium Club, but it's Rivera's framed piece entitled "Best Ever" that caught my eye along with 4 other cards. It was designed to commemorate Rivera becoming the all-time saves leader, and it was awesome to see Topps include the card as part of the 2012 Series 1 set.
#4 2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee
Although I usually include refractors or parallel cards in my top 5 cards post, I unintentionally took a different approach to Mariano Rivera's list. I saw myself drawn towards more simple cards such as the one above from 2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee set. The landscape-style cards usually work well for photos of pitchers, but this photo, combined with the retro color combination, is an absolute standout.
#3 1997 Bowman
Even for a Yankees player, the black and red color combination of the 1997 Bowman set looks pretty awesome. Seriously, what's there not to like about black-bordered cards? Along with the majority of Rivera cards, this one, in particular, shows the Hall of Fame inductee smiling while getting ready to throw his pitch. Throughout his career, Rivera was one of the most well-respected players in the game, and he always seemed to have a smile on his face as well.
#2 2006 Topps Heritage
This is what I mean by how much I was drawn towards simple cards for my top 5 cards post for Mariano Rivera. Even though the 1957 Topps set is quite possibly the most basic set in Topps history, Topps created a near masterpiece with Rivera's card, even having it be #42 in the set. Of course, the Yankees' home uniform is a must, and yet again, Rivera's smile makes an appearance on yet another card on the list.
#1 2014 Topps
At this point, I think I have like 3 copies of this card, maybe more. For good reason, though, because this has to be one of the most iconic cards of the entire decade thus far. After his retirement in following the 2013 season, Topps, similar to what they've done for Derek Jeter and David Ortiz, produced one last Flagship card of Mariano Rivera.
What they were able to create was a perfect card, and that's not a word I use too often. Even being a Red Sox fan and having to watch Rivera shut down the Red Sox time and time again, I'd be willing to pay good money for a parallel of this card, even if it wasn't numbered.
That's how fabulous Rivera's 2014 Topps card truly is.