Shalom Life | July 03, 2015

Get Ready to be 'Taken Out to the Ball Game'

A new documentary narrated by Dustin Hoffman explores the Jewish connection to baseball.

By: Ilan Mester

Published: September 30th, 2010 in Culture » Film » Interviews

Get Ready to be 'Taken Out to the Ball Game'

Jews And Baseball: An American Love Story isn’t just a documentary about sports. While it explores the Jewish connection to baseball, the film is also a story of immigration and shattered stereotypes.

The movie is narrated by Dustin Hoffman and features interviews with a number of people, including player Al Rosen and Larry King. The film’s focus is south of the border but its producer, William Hechter, was raised in Winnipeg and lives in Toronto. Hechter talks to Shalom Life about his new film, which hits theatres in Toronto and Montreal on Friday, Oct. 1.

What prompted you to produce the documentary?

I always wanted to make films and only recently had the opportunity. Making a documentary is one's opportunity of expressing themselves in a medium that can last a long time.

What was the filmmaking process like for the movie?

The process evolved over two and a half years, and was a challenge from start to finish, but the challenge was at all times filled with stimulation, and satisfaction.

How big of a role do you think baseball played in breaking the stereotype of Jews and sports?

I think that baseball played a huge role in the general public's gaining respect for Jews. Baseball is a beloved game, and its heros are also loved, so if a Jew became a baseball star, that meant that he was loved, and that Jews became part of American lore, and as such, gained new respect in the Jewish community at large.

Did you know much about Jewish baseball legends like Hank Greenberg before

producing the movie?

I had always heard of Hank Greenberg, and knew of the pride that he brought to Jews everywhere by excelling in America's game.

How did you get Dustin Hoffman on board to narrate the film?

I knocked on the front door, and just kept knocking. Dustin liked the project, but always wanted to see more. Finally, he said okay. Today I know he loves the film, and is very pleased that he decided to do this.

Did you know Larry King was a baseball fan before making the movie?

I had no idea that Larry King was such an ardent fan, and did not realize his attachment to the game, and especially the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larry King was a class act and a wonderful interview. His love for the game is second to nothing else. He has written a book on baseball.

What's the most important thing you've learned from making the film?

The most important thing I have learned is that a person can do what they set out to accomplish. I have also learned that baseball is a cherished and integral part of America, right up there with the family.

How have audiences reacted to the movie so far?

The audience reaction has been wonderful, beyond any expectations.

If you could make a documentary about any Jewish figure, who would that be?

I have always been impressed by the life of Teddy Kollek. He was the mayor of Jerusalem in 1967, and was a true leader and statesman.

What’s next for you?

Next is a film on the life of Doc Pomus. He wrote "Save The Last Dance For Me" in braces and crutches. He also wrote a thousand other songs, and was a great blues singer as well.

Jews And Baseball: An American Love Story opens Friday Oct. 1 in Toronto (Cineplex Odeon Sheppard) and in Montreal (Cineplex Odeon Cavendish Mall). For More information, visit www.jewsandbaseball.com.

Amy Winehouse was on the Brink of Making a Third Album Before She Died Amy Winehouse was on the Brink of Making a Third Album Before She Died TrendingIsraeli Artist Draws Obama, Clinton, & Other Politicians as Hipsters Israeli Artist Draws Obama, Clinton, & Other Politicians as Hipsters TrendingWalmart Makes ISIS Cake Walmart Makes ISIS Cake Trending
 

Spock Documentary Acquires Sufficient Funding

July 02, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
Spock Documentary Acquires Sufficient Funding

The film has reached funding of $600,000

Read More

North Carolina Man Waves Nazi Flag

July 02, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
North Carolina Man Waves Nazi Flag

The male does not see an issue with the swastika-labeled flag

Read More

Google Mistakenly Labels Black People as Gorillas

July 02, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
Google Mistakenly Labels Black People as Gorillas

The automatic image labeling service made an offensive mistake

Read More

Amy Winehouse was on the Brink of Making a Third Album Before She Died

July 02, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
Amy Winehouse was on the Brink of Making a Third Album Before She Died

The demos that Winehouse had recorded were destroyed by her producer

Read More

Israeli Rehabilitation Program Pairs Prisoners with the Disabled

July 01, 2015 | By Abigail Klein Leichman
Israeli Rehabilitation Program Pairs Prisoners with the Disabled

An award-winning program pairs Israeli prisoners with severely disabled residents of ALEH Negev, benefiting both partners and, ultimately, society

Read More

Israeli Artist Draws Obama, Clinton, & Other Politicians as Hipsters

July 01, 2015 | By Viva Sarah Press
Israeli Artist Draws Obama, Clinton, & Other Politicians as Hipsters

Amit Shimoni is the artist behind HIPSTORY and SHEPSTORY, depicting world leaders as hipsters

Read More

Hapoel Jerusalem Wins First Championship Game, Apparently Thanks to Their New Stadium

July 01, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Hapoel Jerusalem Wins First Championship Game, Apparently Thanks to Their New Stadium

Team owner credits unlikely championship to building of brand new 10,000 seat arena

Read More

Study: Anti-Semitism is on the Decline in Europe

July 01, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Study: Anti-Semitism is on the Decline in Europe

A new ADL poll finds anti-Semitism down among general populations, but on the rise among Western European Muslims

Read More

More Headlines