Actor Richard Gere was so shocked to meet his childhood hero WHITEY FORD recently, he walked up to the baseball star, asked for a hug and started crying. The Pretty Woman star attended a recent induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, New York when his seven-year-old son pointed out the 78-year-old sports ace. Gere says, "I came in the hotel and my son says, 'That's Whitey Ford over there.' And I went, 'Oh my God.' That was my team as a kid, that era of the (New York) Yankees, from '57 to '61. "I walked over to Whitey, like, in a cloud, I started stammering, then I started crying. I was tearing up and I didn't know what to say. "I said, 'Is it Whitey Ford?' and he said, 'Yeah?' And I said, 'Can I give you a hug?' So we stood there for five minutes hugging, with tears streaming down my face."