Tier10’s Chief Creative Officer Scott Rodgers sat down with Tier10lab to discuss his latest project — an infographic on the life and legendary career of Mariano Rivera — and the process behind it.
What inspired you to create this infographic on the career of Mariano Rivera?
His career started to wind down, especially in late August after shooting the “Legends” spots, and I started to watch more. Then he had his emotional final day on the mound at Yankee Stadium. On top of that, you had the social media side — over 130,000 tweets with his name during that last game. After seeing the viral video of Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte walking out to the mound, the emotion started to get to me and everybody else that I watched it with.
I started to notice infographics pop up that, in my mind, didn’t tell the whole story of his life and career. That’s when — as a designer and knowing him personally — I wanted to use what I know how to do to build something that explained his career and his life better than what anybody else could do.
What was your goal in trying to differentiate this infographic from the others?
The easiest part was his stats. Everyone has his stats — you can Google them and look on Wikipedia. You can find his 652 saves. It was tough to find some of the stats we used in this infographic, but the majority of his stats are readily available. Anybody can take his stats and put them in a graph, and they have an infographic.
The story I wanted to tell was from the day he was born, to his family, to illustrating the cardboard glove he used to make as a kid playing on the beach in Panama, to his first to game, to his final. I think it’s neat to show those things side-by-side. His first and last game had a lot of comparisons — the Yankees lost both games, his first game had 15,000 fans, his final game had 50,000. We also went into detail about his famous pitch — the cutter. Yes, we touched on the numbers, but we also included a lot of quotes and things that — in my mind — painted a better picture of him as a human being than just “Mariano Rivera: The Pitcher.”
What do you think Mariano’s thought would be if he saw this infographic?
I don’t know. He’s such a humble guy, and he doesn’t really like calling attention to himself. He’s more about helping others than he is about himself. However, I want him to see it. I think he would notice small things that I’ve done about certain parts of his life. I think he’d pick up on that. But I think he’d like it. This is a guy’s life in one big graphic format.
The only thing I didn’t add was his Hall of Fame induction, which we all know is guaranteed, but I can’t put that up until he’s inducted. So, I’ll do a new one in five years.
This project allowed you to see the full scope of Mariano’s career statistics and record. What do you think was the most interesting aspect of the numbers?
It’s all kind of cool. When you build infographics like this, you try to think of all the odd, weird correlations with numbers. With baseball, I put in there how many pitches he threw and if you were to stack up every single baseball of all those pitches, it would be three times the size of One World Trade Center. I thought that was kind of cool. You average three inches per ball times 21,000. You start to look at numbers differently. I even thought about going through and highlighting every instance of the numbers 4 and 2 being next to each other, so if you’re into conspiracies or coincidences, you could have fun with this.
There’s also the human part of this, like where he says that he got his pitch “from God.” There’s also a quote from him that says, “If I was perfect, I wouldn’t be a pitcher.” But if you look at his numbers, they are unbelievable. I mean, there have been more people to walk on the moon than to have scored an earned run off Mariano Rivera. That’s just crazy when you think about it. There are just so many things.
Are there things that you learned from Mariano that helped you with this project?
Yes. The interesting part was that with all the commercials we’ve shot with him and the time I’ve spent with him and talked to him — hours and even days — he always told me stories about when he was a kid in Panama. At that point, when I first met him, I wasn’t a huge baseball fan, but he never went in to anything else about his career. He was very proud to talk about his days growing up. He also talked about his dad, who was a fishing boat captain.
We really never got into anything else. So, to sit down and go through these numbers — one great stat after another — it was unbelievable.
In essence, what you’re saying is that you got to know Mariano more as a person before knowing how great his stats were.
Pretty much. I mean, everybody knows he’s great, but I don’t think a lot of people actually — until you sit down and go through every single stat — realize what he’s done. It’s amazing. So this was about trying to bring a little bit of a human element into the stats. His stats aren’t even the biggest thing on this. They take up a lot of room, but we talk about his foundation, every award he’s gotten, having the best-selling jersey in 2013. Just, everything. Again, I think it reflects him as a person and a professional baseball player very well.
What would you like to see come of this infographic?
I want people to take this and learn from it. The exercise of doing it opened my eyes and made me realize more about him. Again, I knew him already as a great person, but he’s an unbelievable athlete. And to do what he’s done, and be able to touch so many people in a positive way — through his foundation or the people that watch him on TV or in the stadium. I want people to use this a tool to learn about him.
Would you say that his emotional final appearance at Yankee stadium increased your desire to do this or did you already know before then?
You know, it’s funny. This took days to do — just solid, straight days. I would say yeah. I would say that the drive and want to put something out that was just very representative of him as a person added to the drive of doing it.
Follow Scott Rodgers on Twitter @scotty703