Billy Crystal is a secret weapon for baseball giants NEW YORK YANKEES - he's team manager JOE TORRE's lucky mascot.

The Yankees boss dined with Crystal during a losing streak in 1998, and that led to a string of wins - prompting superstitious Torre to think the funnyman was a talisman for the team.

Crystal says, "They lost to Cleveland in '98 and I went out with him and they won. He rang me up and said, 'We eat, we win.' That became our saying."

Now Crystal makes it a point to phone Torre immediately after big games and losses to keep the good luck streak intact.

He adds, "I called him after the season opener on Monday (31MAR03). Joe is a great friend and a wonderful man."