The actor (below, left) and the Yankees' manager are promoting "Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves," an exhibit at L.A.'s Museum of Tolerance. It documents the lives and ancestries of some notable Americans, including Crystal, 55; Torre, 62; Maya Angelou; and Carlos Santana.
SI: Joe, you've talked about growing up in an abusive household and being afraid. Was this an emotional project for you?
Torre: It really was. As a youngster I had fear in my life from my dad. My mom was always the one there. It feels strange to be celebrating something she was ashamed of all these years—and that's where she was born [in the Italian village of Patina]. My dad [an American] made her feel inferior because she came from "the other side." This exhibit means an awful lot to me.
SI: How is it that you and Billy speak before every Yankees playoff game?
Torre: We were struggling in 1999 during the regular season, and after Billy and I had lunch one day, we broke our losing streak. From then on Billy would call and say, 'We eat together, we win together.' During the World Series that year against the Braves, I was sitting in a caf� and my phone rang: 'We eat together, we win together.' That's how it started.
SI: You've been friends for a long time, but was there something in each other's lives that surprised you?
Crystal: I'm always taken with Joe's honesty and directness. That's why he's great at what he does, and he attributes that to his mom. You see this tough guy, this guy who handles these tough men, and yet it starts with the strength of a woman.
SI: Joe, since you're at the Museum of Tolerance, just how much tolerance will George Steinbrenner have if you don't win the title this year?
Torre: That was evident after we won 103 games last year and he said it wasn't enough. He makes a commitment to the people of New York, and the commitment is the Series. I know that.
SI: Billy, is there an actor Joe reminds you of?