NEW YORK -- Willie Randolph was a six-time All-Star during his 18 Major League seasons, and since retiring in the early 1990s he has coached the Yankees and managed the Mets. But now, he hopes, he's done something that will impress his granddaughter, 6-year-old Savannah.
Randolph voiced his own character in "Henry & Me," an inspirational animated film more than a half-decade in the making that the Yankees were heavily involved in and is finally being released.
"I have no idea how I'm going to look or how I'm going to sound," Randolph said of his cartoon self on Monday during the movie's premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Midtown Manhattan. "But my granddaughter will think I'm pretty cool."
The movie is about a cancer-stricken boy named Jack -- the "Me" part of the title -- who is swept away to another world by Henry, voiced by Richard Gere. Jack meets Yankees legends Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson and Lefty Gomez. Those legends help, as the film's website puts it, the boy learn how to "face his fears and never give up."
Mariano Rivera, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Joe Girardi, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui are among the current and former Yankees who portray themselves. Beloved public address announcer Bob Sheppard recorded lines before passing away in 2010, and Hank Steinbrenner voices the animated version of his father, George Steinbrenner. Austin Williams, a 17-year-old New Jersey native and Yankees fan, voices Jack.
The film is in select theatres as of Monday. A portion of sales -- available on DVD and through digital download as of Sept. 9 -- will be donated to various charities, including Stand Up 2 Cancer.
The message within "Henry & Me" is an important one, Randolph said.
"I think the message should be think about it before it happens, and be there for people as much as you can," Randolph said. "People do a lot of good things for each other, and sometimes people are down, that's when we reach for each other."
Girardi attended the premiere with his daughter, Serena, 14, who also has a role in the film.
They recorded some of their lines together back in 2010 and, well, Serena showed her father how it's done.
"It was more difficult for me than her," Girardi said with a laugh. "She was more of a natural than I was. She actually helped me."
Added Serena: "I usually see him more on the baseball field and things sports-related, and I like acting and cheerleading, so it was nice to have him do something I like and I was more experienced at."
For Girardi, Monday was also a chance to reflect on the legacy left by his old boss, The Boss.
"I think at times he was misunderstood," Girardi said. "The one thing that probably doesn't get enough talk is how giving of a person he was. Whether that was to organizations or players that needed second and third and fourth and fifth chances, bringing back players that had fallen on hard times, George was always willing to give back. To me, that's the light he should remembered in."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less