As the sun set over Fenway Park on Saturday evening, Mariano Rivera saved a Yankees victory over the Red Sox for the 57th time in his career. A couple of hours later, he sat with his wife and children at a corner table at Abe and Louie’s, a famous local steakhouse. And when he stood up to leave, something remarkable happened: People started to clap.
The applause started with a few tables. Then a few more. And by the time Rivera was done posing for photos and chatting with complete strangers, everyone in the restaurant was celebrating an icon of the most hated sports opponent this city has ever known.
“At one point, it finally came to a crescendo,” said Fox broadcaster Kenny Albert, who called Saturday’s game and was sitting at another table with his wife and a friend. “Basically the entire restaurant was clapping for him.”
All this after Rivera spent the afternoon meeting with Bostonians and Red Sox employees, and then received a standing ovation when he entered the game. All this after a week in which even Mets fans joined in the salute for Rivera during the All-Star Game at Citi Field.
What’s next, a duck-boat parade? A plaque along the Freedom Trail? The outpouring of affection in places where Rivera would figure to be least liked seemingly knows no bounds.
“It was weird,” Rivera said Sunday. “Different. You expect that in the stadium, but not in the restaurant. But it was good. It’s humbling.”