In his professional days, Mariano Rivera was known for a devastating cut fastball that set the tone for his becoming the first unanimous Baseball Hall of Famer in history.
But on this day, the mound upon which he rose to prominence served as the backdrop as he looked toward a group of about 80 children, New York Yankees campers, to be more exact.
Rivera wasn’t there at famed Yankee Stadium to make a statement with another strikeout. He was there to make another type of statement, one about his health, wellness and recovery that allowed him to become on of the best pitchers to ever lace up a pair of cleats.
That statement was about how important milk, specifically chocolate milk, is.
The Yankees legend appeared in the Bronx on behalf of the Refuel With Chocolate Milk campaign, which encourages athletes to drink chocolate milk after games, practices and workouts in order to take advantage of the protein and other essential nutrients it contains that boost recovery.
In addition to answering questions from campers, Rivera spoke about how vital chocolate milk was in his daily routine throughout his career.
“I love chocolate milk,” the five-time World Series champion and 13-time MLB All-Star said. “It was a part of my gameday routine. Muscles can get sore after pitching. So, I would get a glass jar of milk and pour chocolate into it. I would stir it and stir it and stir it until there was no chocolate left on the bottom and then drink it. That’s how I would make my chocolate milk for gamedays.”
Rivera was happy to shed even more light on how important healthy eating was to his historic career. And, naturally, milk held a prominent place.
“It’s truly important for athletes to eat healthy,” he said. “Healthy nutrition will take you further. Meaning, if you don’t eat so good, you could be a good player, but you could only play five years because of the shape you’re in. But if you eat great, you could play 19 years like I did. That, to me, is the difference between good, healthy food and bad junk food.
“I believe eating good foods will help make you stronger, faster and smarter. You’re eating good things that help your body so you can play with more energy and be better. Your vegetables, your lean meats and, of course, your milk. You have to drink your milk so your bones get strong and grow.”
Just before personally greeting the campers and taking pictures with them, Rivera gave them one last key message.
“Milk is very important for you guys,” he told the campers. “I want you to understand the importance of drinking milk. Milk helps you grow, and it helps you be better!”