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Turns out Dodgers Joe Torre has friends in high places

July 20, 2010 | 10:21 am
Some guys get ties for their birthday. Joe Torre, in case you had any remaining doubt, is not just some guy.

Torre is a huge fan of the U.S. space program and has made friends in NASA. Sometimes connections really do pay off.

Torre’s assistant, Chris Romanello, got a little creative in the birthday gift department when Torre turned 70 on Sunday.

One of Torre’s favorite movies is "Apollo 13," the 1995 Ron Howard film about the troubled space flight to the moon commanded by Jim Lovell.

Gene Kranz was the crew-cut flight director who spearheaded the ground effort in Houston to bring the flight crew safely back home. Last year he wrote a book about the experience and the space program.

Which led to the interesting gift.

"Chris got me a book, "Failure Is Not an Option," Torre said. "Gene Kranz had signed it and wrote a nice note.

"And there was a DVD, and he got Gene Kranz to wish me a happy birthday, and Jim Lovell. That’s the most unique."

Romanello said the DVD was actually filmed for Torre in Houston by NASA members. He said Lovell lives in Illinois but was in Houston for an annual physical and able to contribute to the special video.

"That," said Torre, "was pretty cool."

-- Steve Dilbeck