Fastball by Joe Zalak
Producers: Thomas Tull (42), Nicholas Trotter
Cast: Kevin Costner (Narrator), Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Pat Gillick, Richard “Goose” Gossage, Tony Gwynn,Doug Harvey, Derek Jeter, Walter “Big Train” Johnson
(Archived Footage), Al Kaline, Sandy Koufax, Joe Morgan, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmitt
The documentary starts out by discussing the love fans have for the fastball and the desire to know who throws the hardest. It then discusses the commonly known hardest throwers in the game through history and currently.
Starting with Walter Johnson in the early 1900s, through Bob Feller and Goose Gossage, all the way to Aroldis Chapman with insights from current players and hall of famers about the hardest pitchers they ever faced.
The most interesting parts of the film for me were when they discussed the science of the fastball and the differences between a 92 mph and 100mph pitch. Some of the more astonishing facts include that a batter only has 396 milliseconds before a 100 mph pitch crosses the plate.
Brandon Phillips of the Indians put the difference between the 2 speeds into perspective, “At 92 miles per hour, you can see the seams and MLB logo on the ball, at 100 mph it becomes a golf ball”
There is also an interesting debate between the scientists and players as to whether or not a fastball can actually rise. Spoiler: according to the scientists it doesn’t actually rise, it is an optical illusion of where the batter thinks the ball will end up vs where it is. I won’t spoil the details for why this happens. However some players, including Bryce Harper, still claims it rises and challenges the scientists to step in the batter’s box.
In the end the film will answer the question of who throws the hardest fastball in MLB history, you’ll have to watch to find out.
I would recommend this documentary to baseball fans and science fans alike. 4/5 Stars.