Along with all of his sensational achievements and incredible records, Mariano Rivera may enter the Hall of Fame with one dubious honor.
The 43-year-old reliever has stepped up to the plate four times in his illustrious career, going 0-for-3 with one walk. If Rivera doesn't tally a hit during the Yankees' remaining interleague games at N.L. ballparks, or during the World Series (should the Yankees get there), he will retire as the player with the most games played without a hit.
As Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal notes, it's not a distinction that keeps Rivera awake at night.
"I could care less about that," Rivera told Costa. "I'm a pitcher, not a hitter."
While relievers seldom get at-bats, and when they do come up to the plate they usually don't get on base, Costa notes that other legendary closers managed to scrap together a few hits. Rich Gossage finished 9-for-85 from the plate. Rollie Fingers went 31-for-180. Trevor Hoffman went 4-for-34.
Rivera didn't even tally an at-bat during a regular season game until he was 36, in 2006.
Ironically, Rivera says he was a "good hitter" during his days as a young shortstop in Panama.
Scouts saw him as too thin to hit for power in the major leagues, which was one of the reasons he switched positions. Still, in reflecting on his lost art of hitting, Rivera told Costa that he has good memories:
"I always liked it."
(The Yankees have road games against the Dodgers and Padres in late July and early August.)