Nineteen seasons, 1,423 innings and 652 saves later, it all came down this this: Mariano Rivera, indisputably Major League Baseball's greatest closer of all time, taking the mound at Yankee Stadium for the final time on Thursday night.
Rivera pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings in his last home outing, a fitting cap to a legendary baseball career. A sellout crowd sent Rivera off with a standing ovation following his final pitch.
Online, too, his teammates and fans paid tribute to Rivera with memories and appreciations.
The Yankees used the hashtag #ExitSandman a reference to Mariano's entrance song, "Enter Sandman" by Metallica to generate conversation with fans. According to MLB, the hashtag was tweeted more than 87,000 times on Thursday night alone.
We'll get to some of the best tweets in a minute, but first, take a look at this clip of Rivera's tearful final exit to chants of "Mar-i-ano":
Below, we've rounded up some of the baseball world's last words to Rivera.
A picture says 1,042 words. pic.twitter.com/V59iTqbtoz
MLB (@MLB) September 27, 2013
Chants of "Mariano" echo around Yankee Stadium as Mo tips his cap to the crowd once more. Thank you, Mo, for everything.
New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 27, 2013
Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 27, 2013
I may be a Red Sox fan but I have the up most respect for Mariano Rivera. He left a mark on baseball that won't be forgotten. #ExitSandman
Storm Wolter (@Realstormwolter) September 27, 2013
So lucky to have been able to watch a sports legend like Mariano Rivera growing up #exitsandman
Blake James Nielson (@MasterBlaker21) September 27, 2013
Watching Mariano Rivera be escorted and taken off that field last night was one of the most incredible things ive ever seen #inspiration
Derek (@ddudek08) September 27, 2013
Thomas Colomb (@TColombTomTom) September 27, 2013
The moment Mariano left the game yesterday was probably 1 of the most emotional moments I've experienced during a game. #respect
Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) September 27, 2013
How will you remember Mariano Rivera? Share with us in the comments.
Image: Mike Stobe/Getty Images