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Rivera gets final out in record third straight Series

Rivera gets final out in record third straight Series

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Rivera gets final out in record third straight Series

As Mariano Rivera prepares to retire, the closer's farewell tour has become a central subplot to the season. Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader has been greeted warmly in each of his road stops, and the Yankees are planning a ceremony of their own to honor Rivera's illustrious career in September.

Rivera will be the last active player to regularly wear uniform No. 42, with the number having been retired throughout MLB in 1997 to honor the achievements of barrier-breaking great Jackie Robinson. During his 19-year big league career, Rivera has also chiseled his own mark on the number's legacy. In honor of Rivera and his contributions, MLB.com is commemorating 42 notable moments from Rivera's career -- the 42 Days of Mo.

Really, the historic 2000 World Series could not have ended any other way.

The first October Subway Series in 44 years had already featured its share of memorable moments. With one out remaining, it was about to experience the most breathtaking moment of them all.

Mariano Rivera, working toward recognition as the greatest closer in history and arguably the best postseason pitcher ever, was set to square off against Mike Piazza -- perhaps the best hitting catcher in Major League history and the Mets' unquestioned superstar.

Rivera threw his signature cutter, and Piazza -- representing the tying run -- hit the ball hard and sent it rocketing to the deepest part of Shea Stadium.

For a moment, all of New York held its breath. So, too, did Rivera, who put his glove hand on his hip, wondering if Piazza had gotten enough of the baseball to tie the game at 4-4.

But Rivera had fooled his nemesis by the slimmest of margins. His cutter moved just enough that the Mets' 12-time All-Star catcher missed the sweet spot and hit it off the end of his bat.

Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams retreated and squeezed the fly ball in front of the warning track. Rivera leaped in the air three times before first baseman Tino Martinez jumped into his outstretched arms. Moments later, Rivera was at the center of yet another World Series celebration -- his third in as many years.

By earning the save, Rivera became the first big league pitcher to record the final out of the World Series in three consecutive seasons.

And in doing so, Rivera left little doubt just who was king of the hill in New York, New York, in 2000.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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