If you were to measure career achievement by the number of retirement gifts received, New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera would not only be the most accomplished closer of all time, he might also be the most accomplished professional in anything of all time.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr)
Statues, paintings, boots, bikes, broken bats, Rivera has received a little bit of everything during his retirement tour to opposing teams stadiums, The Week points out. While some of the gifts are unbelievably awesome, others are, eh, whatever and some are plain dumb.
Coming up with a retirement gift is difficult, even if it’s not for future Hall of Fame baseball players. You want to give something that celebrates the retiree, writes Susan M. Heathfield for About.com. Heathfield gives some helpful advice and ideas — my favorite being a retirement video with the retiree coworkers saying goodbye — to make your former coworker’s swan song a pleasant, memorable experience.
What’s been great about Rivera’s very public retirement tour is the lessons it has provided on choosing a retirement gift for a soon-to-be former coworker. Here are four important lessons from Rivera’s goodbye tour.
1. Don’t ever give someone a painting of themselves.
The first goal of any retirement gift is to, at the very least, not give anything memorably awful.
Of all the gifts rained down on Rivera, none is more stupid and borderline insulting than the huge oil painting Rivera got from the Los Angeles Angels. It’s a painting of Rivera, for Rivera. As much as the Angels have struggled in the American League West this year, this should be their most humiliating failure of the season.
The Tampa Bay Rays also decided to honor Rivera with a monument of Rivera, but at least they were clever about it. They built Riviera a large sand sculpture that featured Rivera’s face with New York skyscrapers. Rivera’s nickname is the “The Sandman” and there’s lots of sand in Tampa Bay, so I see what the Rays were going for here. But, like anybody who has built a sand castle on the beach knows, you can’t take it home with you. So there is absolutely no practical value.
So for your office colleague, no framed photos of them sitting at their desk. That’s just weird.
2. When in doubt, play it safe.
Three teams, the Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners, gave sizable donations to Rivera’s charity.
Unlike, say, a sand monument, this gift is practical and makes a real difference to real people. These teams probably could have come up with something more clever, but they weren’t trying to be flashy. They just wanted to show their appreciation for what Rivera has done for baseball and help others in the process. Sometimes playing it safe shows maturity.
Your retiring coworker probably doesn’t run a charity, but they probably enjoy eating, so go for something simple, like a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
3. People appreciate practical.
Maybe you aren’t exceptionally clever but you want to give your coworker something to remember you by. In that case, go practical.
For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave Rivera a deep sea fishing pole. Even if Rivera doesn’t like to fish, this still works because once you’re retired you have a lot of free time on your hands to try new things.
If a deep sea fishing pole is a bit much, maybe you can team up with some other coworkers to get the retiree a new suitcase for all the traveling he or she might do.
4. Hit a home run.
If you want to swing for the fences with your gift, surprise your coworker with something totally unexpected that represents your respect for his or her service.
The Minnesota Twins did this brilliantly. They gave Rivera a rocking chair made of broken bats. Rivera has been breaking batters’ bats for almost two decades with his signature cut fastball, so the gift, along with being incredibly clever, has real meaning to one of the greatest closing pitchers in the history of baseball.
But the winner for the best Rivera gift, comes from the Boston Red Sox.
Rivera was the last player in the majors to wear the number 42, which was retired by Major League Baseball in 1997 to honor Jackie Robinson. Rivera was allowed to continue to wear 42 to show his respect for the Robinson. To show their respect for Rivera, the Red Sox gave Rivera the number 42 from Fenway Park’s manual scoreboard. The gift is unexpected and sentimental and, considering it comes from the Yankees’ arch rival, is extremely special.
When thinking a gift, take a moment and look around the office to see if there is anything of sentimental value. Just because it might be an untraditional gift doesn’t mean it’s not a good gift.
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