Quinnipiac makes pitch to Riveras

Matt Eisenberg

Though “Enter Sandman” wasn’t playing, there was still plenty of applause and commotion.

New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera made an entrance at Quinnipiac University Wednesday afternoon with his son, Mariano Jr., to visit the Mount Carmel campus. Rivera Jr., a senior pitcher at Iona Prep in New York, is considering attending Quinnipiac next fall and playing baseball for the Bobcats.

“Today was another extension of the search for the right school,” Quinnipiac baseball head coach Dan Gooley said of the visit.

Rivera Jr. and his mom visited the campus about a month ago with the guidance counselor from Iona Prep in search of the right school.

“One of the things I said to Mrs. Rivera and to Mariano Jr. was, ‘Once you start figuring out what schools you’re serious about, your dad should come back and visit with you as well,’” Gooley said.

The Riveras called Tuesday, saying that his dad, the five-time World Series champion for the New York Yankees, wanted to see the school.

“He’s still in the process of searching,” Gooley said. “I think he’s looking at Fairfield University, Pace University, Fordham University, and Iona  [College]. He goes to Iona Prep so I think Iona might be a little too close for him, but those are at least the four schools I know he’s interested in.”

Gooley does not expect a decision until early to mid-February.

Rivera Jr. is 5-foot-10 and weighs about 155 lbs, according to Gooley. He pitched for the Bayside Yankees, a New York City AAU baseball program, in the summer, Gooley said.

“He contacted us and said he was interested,” Gooley said, “so then, of course, we did some follow-up information on him and tried to get some more background information on him. He decided he wanted to come up for a search. Every young guy who visits, we try and meet with them and talk to them.”

Gooley said that Rivera Jr. isn’t the hardest throwing pitcher, but believes he is accurate.

“He throws a lot of strikes,” he said. “He’s the kind of kid you get on a real good strength and conditioning program and work with him mechanically. He could be a good, solid player at this level.”

The attention his father received was overwhelming, as dozens of Quinnipiac students followed him and his son around campus, but Gooley believes the number of people who clamored at the Yankees’ closer is not something Rivera Jr. is ashamed of.

“When we were with the president (John Lahey) he was talking about how proud he is of his father and what he has accomplished,” Gooley said. “People came out to see his dad and that made him very proud, I think.”

Rivera Jr. is looking to get into get into the legal studies program and is interested in joining Quinnipiac’s law school.

“If he can fit in and be a baseball player, he’s gonna do that,” Gooley said. “I think he really enjoyed it today.”

Before the Rivera name is attached to Quinnipiac baseball, there is still a long process to go.

“It’s a unique piece to have if everything works out on your club,” Gooley said, “but you still gotta make it, you still gotta go to class, still gotta make your practice sessions, still gotta perform on the field. No matter what name is attached to you, you still gotta do it. I think the kid has his own identity, I really do.”

Aside from Rivera Jr., Quinnipiac has already recruited four players in the national letter of intent for next year, including first baseman Vin Guglietti, outfielder Alec Pernick, pitcher Matt Lorenzetti, and middle infielder Scott Donahue.

“I think we have a great recruiting year,” Gooley said. “So far.”

Photo credit: Matt Eisenberg