It has been my exceptionally good fortune to have interviewed the leading executives of our industry for 42 years. Thanks to Larry Weiss of Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office, I was introduced to Mariano Rivera two years ago at an EFI Connect event in Las Vegas. Larry arranged for us to have dinner, and it was a remarkably interesting night. We learned a great deal about a man who is revered by baseball aficionados throughout the world. At that dinner, we promised Mariano that we would help him raise money to train young men and women to become certified technicians for our industry.
A brief time later, Mariano asked Larry, “What does Frank have in mind? To explain more fully, we hosted a dinner at our club in New York City. During the evening, we indicated that we would devote our 38th Annual Awards & Charities Gala to The Mariano Rivera Foundation. This is not a proceeds event.
We ask the attendees to write their checks directly to the charity. We have done this since our 14th Annual Awards & Charities Gala in 1998. In total, we have raised $3,000,000 for various charities. CJ has brilliantly recruited sponsors for the dinner and all the related expenses so that all funds raised are donated directly to the charity.
The Mariano Rivera Foundation is the first charity we have raised funds for that will have a direct impact on our industry. Every manufacturer and dealer is recruiting for techs, and here is a man who, through his foundation, is investing heavily in providing some of those technicians. Cathy O’Brien, our marketing director, believed we should interview Mariano to promote our Gala. I have never interviewed a celebrity and speaking to a person of his stature is indeed a wonderful privilege. With her help, we took the plunge.
A Conversation with Mariano Rivera
FC: For the first time, you, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter – the famed New York Yankee Core Four – reunited to participate in Old Timers Day and mark the 25th Anniversary of the 1998 Championship team. In a pre-game interview, you spoke of the team’s defining characteristics, like resiliency and perseverance, and its leaders. Can you share how your teammates and the game of baseball shaped who you are?
MR: How baseball shaped me and made it possible for me to enjoy the success that I have had? Many people have told me that to succeed in business, you have to be willing to work together for the good of all. You must also be responsive and be aware of the impact of your actions. It comes with a team concept. That is exactly what I learned in my 19 years of playing professional baseball. It shaped me and allowed me to become the person I am.
FC: What did you learn specifically from your managers or coaches throughout your baseball career that now helps you manage and oversee your foundation?
MR: From the very beginning, I always gave the best I could do so that we, as a team, could compete. It was Joe Torre, our manager, who taught us to push ourselves to see how far we could go. He wanted all of us to do this together and think of the team first. It was always about the team, and if we all thought that way, we would be winners.
FC: What drives you to give back to your community, specifically to at-risk youth through your foundation?
MR: I always remind myself to remember where I came from. My parents taught me to be respectful of one another and always give back to those in need. I learned from them how they helped others. They also taught me to be grateful when I was able to do something special. Most of all, they taught me not to worry about who I am or what I must do to share. If we are fortunate, we should always help those in need. There will always be people in need, and I should always be ready and willing to work hard to help them.
FC: How you made a baseball glove out of cardboard as a kid leaves your fans in awe of your perseverance. Now, because of your foundation, you are educating and training young men and women to work in the print industry that produced the cardboard box you turned into a baseball glove. Can you share any thoughts you have about that curious twist of fate?
MR: You should tell your readers to go on YouTube, and they can see exactly how I made that glove. It is very simple. I get a wide piece of cardboard about the width of a hand. Cut it part of the way so that you can put your hand through the cardboard. You fold the top so that it is close to the fingers to protect your hand, and the bottom half protects the wrist.
When you cannot pay for something and really want to play baseball, the cardboard glove was good enough. I am incredibly happy that we are helping kids overcome their problems to make their dreams come true. I am happy and blessed that we can do these things for young people.
FC: Can you share any impressions about the printing industry – from the people you have met to the opportunities you see for the people your foundation is mentoring?
MR: Since coming to know Larry Weiss and Luis Villa, I have learned quite a few things. I have seen how Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office has created posters, signs, and decorations for the [Mariano Rivera Foundation’s] Golf Outing. I am now more aware of printing on paper, a lot more than most people think. You see it on billboards and signs that tell a story, and it is great. I also believe it will not go away anytime soon.
These young people who need our help represent a new generation. Through no fault of their own, they have very little in the way of opportunity to build a future. I see the printing industry as being able to help the youth and come together for the good of both.
Larry Weiss and The Mariano Rivera Foundation
We asked Larry Weiss for a quote about his involvement with The Mariano Rivera Foundation. Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office has done much for this foundation, and we thank him for encouraging us to get involved. Here’s what Larry shared with us:
I joined The Mariano Rivera Foundation board of directors in October 2021. Since then, I’ve been involved in three golf outings, and I’m happy to share that I was on the golf committee for the last two events. Between the two most recent golf outings, the Foundation raised approximately $2 Million thanks to the incredible support and generosity of the print industry.
The Mariano Rivera Foundation mission is to provide youth from impoverished families with an education that will empower them for the future. To accomplish this mission, donations raised through the golf event and other fundraisers will help build the Mariano Rivera Learning Center from the ground up, enabling underserved youth to achieve success. The Learning Center is an investment in the future of a vibrant community through its young people, as well as an investment in a model that will be scaled across the country.
Beyond The Mariano Rivera Foundation
This is the first time we have ever raised money for a charity aimed at fixing a fundamental problem for our industry. It is all about teaching young, disadvantaged people that there are legitimate opportunities out there for them. It is the printing industry.
We believe there is a lesson to be learned here by all of us in our industry to help young people look at print as a legitimate opportunity. Each of you, wherever you are, should reach out to the local school systems, and I am not talking about college graduates. We are talking about those at the secondary education level. The printing industry provides excellent opportunities for those who do not attend college, and it can fulfill a lifelong need for gainful employment. Many of the most successful dealers began their careers as service techs. Most of them retired as millionaires.