Shalom Life | September 21, 2014

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.

The Ten Best Deli's in North America The Ten Best Deli's in North America TrendingRobert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards TrendingJames Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character Trending
 

The Ten Best Deli's in North America

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Ten Best Deli's in North America

Got a hankering for a smoked meat sandwich? Look no further

Read More

New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Harmful For Diabetics

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Harmful For Diabetics

A new study From Israel cautions diabetics to think twice about sugar substitutes

Read More

Daniel Radcliffe Repays His Debt to Irish Football Team Two Years Later

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Daniel Radcliffe Repays His Debt to Irish Football Team Two Years Later

'The F Word' star paid back the cab fare he borrowed while partying with the team.

Read More

Seth Rogen Teams Up With Adam McKay and Ben Schwartz For New Film

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Seth Rogen Teams Up With Adam McKay and Ben Schwartz For New Film

The 'This Is The End' star will also be producing.

Read More

Joan Rivers Writes Forward For New Jewish Cookbook

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Joan Rivers Writes Forward For New Jewish Cookbook

The comedian contributed some Jewish jokes and sentiments for 'Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food'

Read More

Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards

The 'Iron Man' star will be joined by Mark Ruffalo, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, and others

Read More

James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character

The actor thinks that he's very similar to the corn-rowed, gun-toting character from Harmony Korine's film.

Read More

Jamie Geller And Tom Franz Explore The Bible’s Superfoods

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Jamie Geller And Tom Franz Explore The Bible’s Superfoods

Two of Israel's most renown Kosher chefs explore biblical foods in the City of David

Read More

More Headlines