It seems all anyone is talking about these days is Cubs prospect, Kris Bryant. His cards have been on fire, specifically from Topps’ Bowman line and prospectors are drooling over a possible late-April call-up to the majors. At that point, we will see is Kris is the next big thing or another Gregg Jefferies or, well, Ruben Rivera.
If you recall, much like Jefferies in the 80s, Ruben Rivera was touted as the second-coming of Mickey Mantle in the mid-90s. As it turns out, he was so far removed from it that his career fizzled out in less than a decade and after being publically shamed for being a memorabilia thief. In case you forgot, he was caught stealing Derek Jeter’s equipment and selling it off for $2,500.
If it seems like a lifetime ago that you saw Rivera in baseball it’s because he last played way back in 2003. His lifetime career average? An abysmal .216 with 64 career home runs in well over 600 games played. You would think that was the end, right? Wrong. Turns out, Ruben Rivera is still playing baseball in a Mexican League at the age of 41.
Just last season, Ruben hit 21 home runs, drove in 70 runs, stole 19 bases and hit .301. His best season was in 2009 when he hit 32 home runs, drove in 90 and hit .344. Now those are more Mantle-like numbers if you ask me. It also appears Rivera has no plans to slow down, either, as he has already played in 3 games this season.
It’s unfortunate that Ruben Rivera did not turn out to be the next Mickey Mantle. It’s even more unfortunate that he forever tarnished his name as well. However, everyone deserves another chance and clearly this man loves baseball enough to continue playing every day even in his 40s. As of now, he is a lifetime .300 hitter in the minors thanks to his Mexican League stats and is on his way to 400 career home runs. Those aren’t exactly Mantle figures but he has more than made up for digging through Jeter’s jockstrap for some cash.
Keep it going, Ruben!