by Tony Medley
Runtime 84 minutes.
OK for children.
This is a fascinating
movie, especially for someone who played baseball at some time in their
lifetime. I was a pitcher outfielder in high school. We had a lousy
team. In my senior year, I got the start against Mater Dei, a longtime
established school, who was led by the player who was the CIF player the
year that year, pitcher Tony Ankerson.
Ankerson had a
fastball between 85 and 90 miles an hour and pitched no-hitters
virtually every time out. I batted second in the lineup. Our first
hitter popped out. I came up and worked the count to 3-2. I didnít know
if Ankerson had a curveball (I, myself, didnít have a fastball and threw
nothing but curves and knucklers which nobody in high school at that
time had ever seen so I was effective), but I hadnít seen one yet and I
figured he was coming with yet another fastball. I was right and I
swung. Even though the guy was lightning fast, I was a little early but
I really hit it solidly, over the left fielderís head for home run, the
only home run Ankerson allowed that year.
The result of this
was that I really thought that anybody can hit a fastball (I got a
single later in the game), no matter how fast. But this film changed my
mind because great players, like George Brett, tell what itís like to go
up against a 100 mph fastball. They say that itís a lot different than
going up against a 92 mph fastball.
The film goes into a
lot of fascinating science, pointing out that the difference between a
92 mile-per-hour fastball and a 100 mph fastball is 4 feet or 50
milliseconds and that is a huge difference when the ball is only
traveling less than 60 feet.
But thereís really
more to this movie than that. Lots of players are interviewed. One, New
York Yankee fire-balling reliever Goose Gossage said he was never more
scared than in the 1978 playoff game against the Red Sox. He said he was
shaking as he trotted onto the field (he got Hall of Fame Red Sox
outfielder Carl Yastremski to pop out to end the game and send the
Yankees to the World Series). But he then showed his supreme confidence
in himself, saying, ďIf I could change one thing in my career, I
wouldnít change a single thing, even the balls that went for home runs.Ē
Ty Cobb said about
Walter Johnson, ďHe threw the ball so hard it hissed as it came by.Ē
The film tries to
determine who is the fastest pitcher of all time, narrowing it down to
Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, and present day Cincinnati Reds
Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman. It also tells the fascinating story of
Steve Dalkowski, whom everyone agrees was the faster pitcher of all
time. Steve couldn't get the ball over the plate so never pitched in the
big leagues, but there's more to his story than that.
They were all
clocked, even Johnson, and the film analyses the clocking and comes up
with the fastest. Far be it from me to be a spoiler!
Iíve seen lots of
baseball clips but there are clips in this film Iíve never seen,
including some fine clips of the legendary Johnson.
This is a film that
no baseball fan should miss. (Available on Amazon Video).