FASTBALL, a documentary film that explores the heartbeat of the game – the confrontation between pitcher & batter, sixty feet and six inches and barely a second in the making – is set for a U.S. and Canadian theater release this Friday, March 25th.
The film, which is produced by Thomas Tull (“42”), directed by Jonathan Hock and narrated by Kevin Costner, will be available in theaters near or in all MLB Club markets. Full list of theaters is below. FASTBALL also will be available via Video On Demand and in the Apple iTunes store.
The heartbeat of the game of baseball is the battle between the pitcher and the batter – one man with a ball, one with a stick. As the pitcher winds up and the batter zeroes in, both of their bodies tense up and suddenly spring into action against each other. All actions of the game arise from that confrontation, sixty feet and six inches and barely a second in the making.
As explained in FASTBALL, that seemingly arbitrary distance is actually a nearly perfect balance point between the two players on either side of the ball. From that distance, a pitch thrown as fast as a human being can possibly throw – somewhere just above 100 mph if you are an elite pitcher – is delivered at a speed that is right at the threshold for how quickly the most talented of hitters can see, process, and react to the pitch. At that highest level of execution, batters and umpires alike swear the ball “rises” as it reaches home plate – something that physics tells us is impossible.
That’s just one of the mysteries, myths, and memories investigated and revealed in FASTBALL, based on the original idea by the film’s Producer, Thomas Tull, who also produced the feature film “42” and who is a Board Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The film features interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to current-day All-Stars. FASTBALL documents the history of the “fastest” pitcher – from Walter Johnson’s famous speed of 122 feet per second, to Bob Feller’s post-war record of 98.6 mph, to Nolan Ryan’s “officially” clocked best of 100.9, to the Aroldis Chapman’s 105.1.
But it also remembers the many stories and statistics surrounding the greatest fastball pitchers of all time. Sandy Koufax’ perfect game is remembered with rarely seen footage shot from behind home plate; the intimidating stares of Hall of Famers Goose Gossage and Bob Gibson are echoed in the observations of modern-day fastball mavens; and early problems with wildness ultimately lead to two very different careers for Hall of Famer Ryan and former phenom Steve Dalkowski, the fastest pitcher in history who never made it to the majors.
While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the math and seems to come out with a very clear verdict that might come as a surprise – FASTBALL tells the story of the game itself. Filmed at baseball’s most hallowed grounds, from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to Yankee Stadium to the sandlot field in Weiser, Idaho, where Walter Johnson’s fastball changed the game over a hundred years ago, the film provides unparalleled insight into both the mechanics and the mythos of our National Pastime.
Featured in the film:
Hall of Famers – Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Bob Feller, Bob Gibson, Pat Gillick, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Doug Harvey, Walter Johnson, Al Kaline, Sandy Koufax, Joe Morgan, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmidt.
Former Players – Derek Jeter, Steve Dalkowski.
Active Players – Aroldis Chapman, Bryce Harper, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew McCutchen, David Price, Justin Verlander.