Rivera sat out the Yankees' final three games of the season, at Houston from Friday to Sunday, because he wanted his final moment on the field to be Thursday night in Yankee Stadium, when he cried on the shoulder of Andy Pettitte and captain Derek Jeter when they came to the mound to take him out of a game for the last time.
"I want to keep that memory of mine," Rivera told the crowd of 40,542 before Sunday's game. "For that, I apologize. You guys deserved more, but I'm being a little selfish."
Former Rivera teammate Roger Clemens and former Yankees manager Joe Torre were on hand to celebrate Rivera.
"I managed there for 12 years, and trust me, you don't get a chance to manage for George Steinbrenner for 12 years unless you have somebody like this coming out of that bullpen," Torre said.
Rivera was presented with artwork commemorating his career, and there was a video message from Kirk Hammett of Metallica, performer of the song "Enter Sandman" that played each time Rivera entered the game.