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Yankees legend Mariano Rivera pitched in on Friday as the home of the Bronx Bombers was transformed into a COVID-19 vaccination mega-facility.
“I love it. It’s my house. Being here in the Bronx is huge,” Rivera told reporters outside Yankee Stadium as hundreds of locals stood in line to get the first jab of the coveted two-dose coronavirus vaccine.
Rivera added, “You shouldn’t be afraid [to get the vaccine].”
“We don’t get it, we’re in trouble. If we gonna get it, we’re gonna save lives,” the Hall of Famer said of the vaccine.
Later, Rivera — alongside Yankees president Randy Levine and Yankees manager Aaron Boone — appeared via livestream at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Albany press briefing.
“It is wonderful what you guys are doing. I used to pitch here and save games and now this is about saving lives,” said Rivera as he spoke from Yankee Stadium.
“This is greater than baseball. We’re talking about hundreds and millions of people,” the baseball great continued. “I see so many smiling faces, that’s what it is all about. Hope is the name of the game right now.”
Levine said that in order to “incentivize” locals to come out and get vaccinated at the stadium Yankees “trinkets” will be given out.
“This is bigger than baseball. This is a bigger purpose than baseball. We are so honored to partner with you,” Levine told Cuomo.
Cuomo cheered Rivera for showing his support for the vaccination effort.
“The words you just used that you saved games in that stadium and now you’re saving lives – truer words were never spoken. This vaccine does save lives,” the governor said.
“This vaccine can save their life and your presence today is going to bring that message home to many people because they do trust you and they do respect you.”
The mass vaccination site at the stadium officially opened at 8 a.m. Friday — through a partnership with the city, state, the Yankees, SOMOS Community Care and the New York National Guard — following weeks of delays due to vaccine shortages.
Appointments to get jabbed at the site are reserved for residents of the Bronx – the borough with the highest coronavirus positivity rate in the city.
Officials say the site can handle 15,000 appointments in the first week.
Shortly after noon Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio also toured the site and spoke to reporters outside alongside Rivera.
“This is an important moment. This is about equity. This about fairness,” de Blasio said. “The Bronx is one of the places that bore the brunt of this crisis of the coronavirus.”
“Yankee Stadium means so much to New Yorkers,” he said. “Today, it is a place of healing, a place of protection for the people of the Bronx.”
The mayor, a noted Boston Red Sox fan, even donned a Yankees cap for the occasion.
“For one day only, I will declare myself a Yankees fan,” Hizzoner said.
Hours earlier, Spike Lee made a surprise morning visit to the stadium and chatted with locals waiting in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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