Torre lends voice to feature film

Torre lends voice to feature film

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Mix baseball, the Yankees' mystique, some talented Hollywood veterans and the spirit of the late Christopher and Dana Reeve, and you come up with an entertaining film called "Everyone's Hero" that both parents and their children will love.

The film tells the story of Yankee Irving, a 10-year old boy who learns about life and believing in himself while on a cross-country adventure to retrieve Babe Ruth's favorite bat from a crooked former pitcher during the 1932 World Series. It was originally developed and directed by Christopher Reeve before his death in 2004. His wife Dana stayed on as executive producer of the film and provided the voice of Yankee's mom, Emily, before her death this past March of lung cancer.

"Their spirit is all through this," said Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor William H. Macy, who provided the voice of Lefty, the corrupt ex-ballplayer who steals the Babe's bat to try to get back into baseball. "Chris developed the script and Dana acts in the thing, and I think all of us involved are very pleased that we could get this thing to the big screen."

Because of Reeve's involvement, a plethora of Hollywood heavyweights -- including Whoopi Goldberg, Brian Dennehy, Mandy Patinkin, Forest Whitaker, Robert Wagner and Rob Reiner -- and current Yankees manager Joe Torre all lent their vocal talents to the project.

"I was at a party that Billy Crystal threw, and Dana Reeve was there," said Torre, who does the voice of the Yankees manager in the film. "She asked if I'd be interested, and, without hesitation, I said yes. Anything her and Chris were doing was certainly going to be a very upbeat, very classy, very worthwhile doing, and I'm so glad they gave me the opportunity to do it."

Doing the voice of the Yankees manager should have been a walk in the park for Torre, who played himself in the 1990 comedy "Taking Care of Business" and also had a small part in Crystal's 2002 comedy "Analyze That." But Torre says that being more animated took a little extra effort on his part.

"I do the voice of the Yankee manager, but I do it like this, and they obviously wanted a little more animation and it was fun," said Torre. "They had to poke me a little bit just to get the over-the-top type thing out of me. I did hear a little bit of it while I was doing it in New York. My son was in the booth listening with some of his friends and it was exciting for me, because when you see actors do these animated movies and seeing how much fun they have doing them, just from the sounds, I was looking forward to it from the moment they asked me."

"Not every ballplayer can act and Joe does a great job," said actor/director Reiner, who provides the voice of Screwie, Yankee's traveling companion and a talking baseball looking for one more moment in the baseball sun. "He's got a lot of charisma, a lot of personality, and not everyone can do that and he pulls it off."

"That certainly makes me feel wonderful, not only good," said Torre of Reiner's compliment. "Because this was new water for me. I wasn't nervous at all, and it didn't take very long. I thought the concept and movie sounded like a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing it."

Another central character in the film is Babe Ruth, the Yankees legend who was larger than life during his heyday in the 1920s and '30s before growing to mythical proportions over the years.

"I think for most people, those who love baseball and those who don't know a thing about baseball, the one thing they know is Babe Ruth," said Reiner, who grew up in New York as a Giants fan and later changed his allegiance to the Dodgers when his hero, Willie Mays, was traded to the Mets in 1972. "Everybody knows who Babe Ruth is, they know the Yankees and that they've won all those World Series, so I think it works on a broader scale for everybody that it's Babe Ruth and the Yankees featured in the film."

"Babe made his mark with the Yankees, especially with Yankee Stadium being called 'The House That Ruth Built,'" said Torre, who has managed the Yankees to six pennants and four world championships. "He really saved baseball at the time, it was a major stride. I think it was only natural to have Babe Ruth be a part of this thing because of the legacy that he carries and the fact that he wore the Yankee pinstripes for so many years. He was a big part of that."

"Everyone's Hero" is about having the determination to see something through to the end. The courage that Yankee Irving shows in the film and the courage that the Reeves showed in real life resonate in those who helped bring this film to a wider audience."

"I hope they get out of it what this film meant to Chris and Dana Reeve," said Reiner, who was friends with the couple. "This is about never giving up, and if anybody ever epitomized that, it was Chris in the way he lived his life. It's about never giving up, keep swinging and good things will eventually happen."

"When I do my job as a manager, the one thing I try to get across to my guys is it may not always come easy, so you have to keep trying," said Torre. "This movie is about keep trying, and this will certainly be a part of Chris and Dana's legacy."

"Everyone's Hero" is produced by IDT Entertainment released by 20th Century Fox. The film opens nationwide Friday.

Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.