Publish date:

A Made Met

Michael Imperioli plays a catcher on TV

Actor MichaelImperioli (Christopher on The Sopranos) takes on the role of a Mets catcher inthe movie version of Mitch Albom's novel For One More Day, airing Dec. 9 onABC. The 41-year-old Mount Vernon, N.Y., native has a black belt intaekwondo.

SI: You met withYankees catcher Jorge Posada (below) to prepare for this movie, right?

Imperioli: Yes. Hewas my favorite player even before I did this. I wanted to talk about themental aspect of being a catcher. They're like shrinks, helping pitchers stayconnected to the game. Pitchers tend to be idiosyncratic, and there's asolitary aspect to the job. The catcher is kind of their lifeline.

SI: Is playing aMet heresy for a Yankees fan?

Imperioli: Inacting, everything is O.K. If it's all right that I put someone's head througha window, then I guess it's O.K. to wear a Mets uniform.

SI: How much of aYankees fan are you, anyway?

Imperioli: We wereshooting [For One More Day] near Massachusetts, and the Red Sox organizationcalled and asked if I wanted to throw out the first ball at Fenway. I said Iwould do it only if I could wear a Yankees uniform. They didn't go forthat.

SI: Did athletesreach out to you to say they liked The Sopranos?

Imperioli: Thebest was when I got a call two years ago from a lawyer for Muhammad Ali (right)saying, "Muhammad wants to meet you. He's a fan of the show." I wasstunned. I invited them to the set, but I kept thinking, This is not going tohappen. But Ali came! I brought him in, and he got an ovation from the wholecrew. Everyone stopped working for a half hour. Some people were crying. Hewent up to everyone, shook hands; it was unbelievable. I don't think peoplewould have reacted the same way if it were the Pope.

SI: Did Ali get anaudience with Tony Soprano?

Imperioli: It wasthe season when James Gandolfini was in the hospital with a coma. He was in bedand had all the tubes on him. Jimmy didn't know Ali was there, so Ali and Isnuck up on him. Gandolfini turned his head and said, "Holy, s---!"

The Pop CultureGrid

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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FRED TAYLOR Jaguars RB

Tim Tebow (Florida). Is there any doubt?

I am tired of seeing Reggie Bush

My fingernails

The first week in December

Jessica Alba

ERIC HINSKE Free Agent 1B

Darren McFadden (Arkansas)

Bud Light ones that keep saying "Dude"

Tobacco

Two days before Thanksgiving

My wife

DOUGLAS MURRAY Sharks D

Tim Tebow

AFLAC commercials

General Tobacco

A week before Christmas

Shakira

KELENNA AZUBUIKE Warriors G

Andre Woodson (Kentucky)

"Gellin'" Dr. Scholls commercials

Starburst

Two weeks before Christmas

Halle Berry (above)

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ANDREW H. WALKER/GETTY IMAGES (IMPERIOLI)

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HYPERION (ALBOM BOOK)

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HEINZ KLUETMEIER (POSADA)

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MICHEL EULER/AP (ALI)

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MATT SAYLES/AP (BERRY)

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JIMMY DEFLIPPO/US PRESSWIRE (TAYLOR)

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JOHN BIEVER (HINSKE)

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JAMIE SABAU/NHL/GETTY IMAGES (MURRAY)

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KIRBY LEE/WIREIMAGE.COM (AZEBUIKE)

THREE PHOTOS