Fastball

  • I WANNA GO FAST Getting to the bottom of baseball's obsession with the fastball

    On August 20, 1946 — almost 70 years ago — Bob Feller threw what was being called in the papers a “world record fastball.” Before his start against Washington, the U.S. Army had set up at home plate some sort of unwieldy contraption that was variously called a “Lumiline Chronograph” and “Sky Screen Cronograph.” The Army supposedly used this device measure the speed of rifle bullets.

    At that moment in time, the world record in the 100-meter dash was held by Jesse Owens at 10.2 seconds. It is now Usain Bolt’s record of 9.58 seconds.

    The world record in the 100-meter freestyle was held by Alan Ford, who had swam a special race in 1944 when the Olympics were canceled for World War II. He swam 100 meters in 55.9 seconds. Brazil’s Cesar Cielo now has the record at 46.91 seconds.

    Les Steers owned the high-jump record then at six feet, 11 inches. The seven-foot jump was something of an obsession then, and it would another 10 more years before Charlie Dumas did it. The record is now eight feet, held by Cuba’s remarkable Javier Sotomayer.

    All of this is mentioned to clarify what Bob Feller did that day in Washington. He was starting the game against the Senators (he lost) so it seems unlikely that he threw every bit as hard as he could for some quirky speed test.

    Even so, his fastball sailed through the army’s speed measuring device and was clocked at 98.6 mph. That’s pretty good, right? If you went to the ballpark, watched a starting pitcher throw a fastball and then saw 99 mph pop on the giant radar gun, you’d be pretty impressed even now. The hardest throwing starter in 2015 was Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura, who averaged about 96 mph and topped out at 101.

    But here’s the thing that’s easy to miss: Yordano Ventura and all pitchers today are having their fastballs clocked just as the ball is leaving their hands. Feller’s fastball was clocked as it was crossing home plate, 60 feet, 6 inches away.

    What’s the difference? Well, I will leave that to the scientists of Jonathan Hock’s terrific new documentary “Fastball,” which is in some theaters on Friday and available on iTunes and Amazon and all those places. Let’s just say: It’s a BIG difference.

    I should say, right up front, that I worked with Jon Hock on “Fastball,” which not only puts me one degree away from Kevin Bacon (I am in “Fastball” with Kevin Costner, and Costner was in JFK with Kevin Bacon) but also makes me a bit biased about the movie. Still, I was not THAT involved and what I love about “Fastball” has nothing to do with the parts I’m in.

    There’s a theory out there that people are throwing the ball harder than at any point in baseball history. This is because 100-mph fastballs used to be a bit like shooting stars and now they light up radar guns in every stadium practically every night. Aroldis Chapman is the king of the 100-mph fastball — Statcast had him throwing the 62 fastest pitches in 2015 — but THIRTY-SIX pitchers broke 100 last year (thank you MLB.com)*. Every team seems to have at least one bullpen guy who, on the right night, can light up triple digits.

    *I have to show you the top-five list of pitchers who broke 100 mph just you get a sense of the absurdity of Chapman:

    5. Bruce Rondon, Tigers, 53 times.

    4. Kelvin Herrera, Royals, 66 times

    3. Nathan Eovaldi, Yankees, 75 times

    2. Arquimedes Caminero, Marlins, 77 times

    1. Aroldis Chapman, Yankees nee Reds, 453 times.

    And so many more 100-mph pitchers are on the way. At Royals camp, for instance, former closer Jeff Montgomery — who was unusual because he did not rely on a fastball but instead was a four-pitch reliever — finds himself wandering around wide-eyed. “These kids throw so hard!” he says shaking his head. “It’s amazing.”

    But are pitchers really throwing harder than ever? There’s no question that MORE pitchers are throwing hard now than ever before but you might explain that like so:

    1. More and more of the game’s best arms are coming out of the bullpen. When a pitcher comes into the game and just blows it all out for an inning, he obviously throws harder — he can often add two, three or four mph to his fastball compared to starters. Back to Kansas City, Wade Davis is a great example. As a starter, he averaged about 92 mph and almost never broke 95 mph. As a reliever, he AVERAGES 96 mph and will sometimes close in on 100.

    2. There is so much more reliance on the radar gun today. It’s a star-marking device. A pitcher now knows that if he throws 100 mph, he has a fastpass to the big leagues and a place in someone’s bullpen. This means pitchers are now straining their arms to get every last mph. Which leads to:

    3. Tommy John surgery and other medical advancements are putting pitcher arms back in the game at just about full strength. Matt Harvey, for instance, underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the whole 2014 season. In the days before Tommy John surgery, he likely would have been finished as a big league pitcher. But, as it stands now, he was one of the 36 pitchers who broke 100 in 2015.

    Still, as compelling as it is to see so many pitchers throwing hard, this does not get to the original question of the fastball which is: Are people throwing HARDER than they ever did? We know the top sprinters are running faster, the top swimmers are swimming faster, the best high jumpers are jumping higher. But does anyone throw the ball harder than Walter Johnson … or Bob Feller … or Nolan Ryan … or Steve Dalkowski?

    I don’t want to give away too much from the movie — all four of those men play a major role in it, as does Chapman and the revived Justin Verlander and the remarkable Bob Gibson and the ever-talkative Goose Gossage — but what I think “Fastball” does best is explain one of baseball’s great mysteries. Why does baseball feel unbound by time in a way that no other American sport does? Why is it that in baseball, you will routinely hear people say that men who played many generations ago — Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Oscar Charleston, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Satchel Paige — are the greatest who ever played the game? You would never hear that sort of thing in football or basketball or hockey. Why is baseball different?

    As I think “Fastball” explains beautifully, the difference just might be the timelessness of the fastball. While athletes in every sport have become bigger, stronger and faster, while training methods and medical treatment have improved exponentially, while new drugs have enhanced players performances, the fastball remains. How hard did Bob Feller actually throw that day in 1946? Let’s just say that, when you see the final total, well, even Aroldis Chapman might be impressed.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/major-league-baseball-fastball/

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  • Exclusive Interview with Director Jonathan Hock for ‘FASTBALL’ Read more at: https://tr.im/NIkoZ

    The most respected and feared pitch in baseball is definitely the fastball. Every major league pitcher strives to perfect the fastball and every pitcher has the fastball pitch in their repertoire. Only a few can have the bragging rights to throw more than 100 miles per hour or even to have the fastest fastball ever. In Jonathan Hock’s documentary FASTBALL, it explores baseball’s favorite pitch by attempting on who may have the fastest fastball in history from the perspective of the scientific community and the past/present famous baseballs players who tried to hit or to throw that pitch. Some of the interviews include Justin Verlander, David Price, Derek Jeter, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson and more great players trying to push their perspective on the fastball. The documentary is narrated by Kevin Costner. FASTBALL will be in select theaters and on-demand this Friday, March 25. Also check out certain shows on Tugg events by clicking here. Check out the full interview below. Latino-Review: Thanks for speaking with me. Let’s start off with the easy question—where did you get the idea from? Jonathan Hock: The idea came from Thomas Tull, who is the chairman of Legendary Pictures. They made THE DARK KNIGHT, INCEPTION, and 42, the Jackie Robinson movie. He is a lover of baseball. This is something that is very, very dear to him. I got a phone call one day from Thomas Tull who said, “I’ve seen your work and I have an idea for baseball documentary. I want to make a film about the fastball.” So I said, “Sure!” You don’t say no to Thomas Tull as a documentary filmmaker. Then as I hung up the phone, I said to myself, “What in the world is a phone about the fastball?” We eventually met and talked about it. What we really wanted to do was to find all the magic of baseball—the history, happenings today and everything we loved about the game—past and present. So it’s seen through the lenses of 396 milliseconds, which is a 100 miles per hour fast ball to reach home plate. It was a two-year process by interviewing 20 Hall of Famers. There were a lot of current All-Stars. It was the most fun I’ve head. Latino-Review: Since you’ve interviewed so many people—what was the consensus from these people over the fastest fastball? Jonathan Hock: I would say that there wasn’t a single person who got the majority of the votes. But, the names you’ve heard most often were Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller and Walter Johnson. These are the three pitchers with one going all the way back to the turn of the twentieth century. Walter Johnson was the first man to be called with the fastest fastball man alive. He was also the first pitcher to have his pitch timed scientifically in 1912. Forty years later, Bob Feller came along and people said that here’s a guy who was faster than Walter Johnson. Then thirty years later, Nolan Ryan came along and now HERE’s the guy with the fastest fastball. Now today, you have all these guys throwing at 100 in which every team has one of two of these fastball pictures. On what we did and what people enjoyed the most about the film was that we took the data taken scientifically in history of baseball and brought it the head of the physics department at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Dr. Gregg Franklin ran all the data for us. He compared all the information on where the pitches were timed and at what point they were timed. So he determined on who was the fastest pitcher of all-time. That’s one of the highlights of the film trying to figure that out. Latino-Review: Coincidentally, I’m a baseball fan. I’m very interested in all of this. But, how do you make a documentary exciting for non-baseball people? What would the formula be that you would sought after? Jonathan Hock: I’ve made a number of documentaries about sport subjects for ESPN 30 for 30 and others. The thing is that you really never make the film about sport. The film is about the people. Imagine if you’re making a war movie, you’re not making a film about the strategies of the generals of on how the war is progressing. It’s about the people who got caught up in the war. You are certainly showing the war in the movie. That’s not the key or what people are moved by as they go to the movie theater. With FASTBALL, it’s the same idea. We don’t just make a movie about fast pitches and big hits. Baseball fans would’ve liked it, but they may end up as the only ones. On what we did was that we dug in a little deeper and found the universal human emotions. It’s the things that get people passionate about the game. It boils down to the primal battle between a man with a rock and a man with the stick. That is the pitcher and the batter. You strip away the specifics of the game and reduce it to the human struggle that becomes with any great story. It’s the people with goals. It’s the people with dreams. It’s the people sharing something with teammates. Then there are the victories and defeats. It’s all about the inhuman activities that we have to do while we don’t have to do. Why do people paint? Why do people climb mountains? Why do people fall in love? All these things are in baseball. We just reduced all those things down to the 396 milliseconds over the 60 feet and 6 inches. We used that as a platform to tell a story. Latino-Review: Now you’ve recruited Kevin Costner to be the narrator. Talk about on why he’s perfect for your documentary. Jonathan Hock: Just the sound of his voice sounds like baseball. With all the great baseball movies he’s done, BULL DURHAM and FIELD OF DREAMS are one about a baseball player and the other about fathers and sons. Those are landmark baseball movies. Then of course, he also played a pitcher who threw a no-hitter in FOR LOVE OF THE GAME. He brought a lot of the first-hand knowledge to the game. It’s the sound of his voice like the famous speech he gave in BULL DURHAM about the small of the woman’s back. He could just talk to you about the simple things of baseball, but it becomes more than that with what he had done as an actor. We were making a film not just strictly about the baseball games. We were making a film about the human endeavor. We felt his voice was the perfect one to bring that out. Thomas Tull worked with Kevin before when he played Superman’s father in MAN OF STEEL. That’s how we got Kevin and we were really, really appreciative of the amazing job we did in the film. Latino-Review: I got all teary-eyed when you use the footage of Ernie Banks and Tony Gwynn in the documentary. Are those old archive footages or did you managed to sit down with those two great legends? Jonathan Hock: The first thing we’ve filmed was that Hall of Fame footage with Tony Gwynn, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and George Brett. They were sitting in the rotunda with all the Hall of Fame plaques. Tony was feeling okay at that point and about eight or nine months later that we lost him. We were so glad that we were able to have that time with him. He was such a beloved figure in the game. Of course, with Ernie Banks, the weekend after that we filmed interviews with a number of Hall of Famers who were gathered in Cooperstown. Ernie was one of them. Talk about a legend. The very first baseball bat I owned was an Ernie Banks signature bat. It was such an honor to talk to him at the time. We didn’t know he was ill at the time. He passed away a year after we filmed him. We dedicated the film to their memories at the end of the documentary. We had a great pleasure and honor to be spending time with those guys. For me as a baseball fan to spend a couple of hours talking with Nolan Ryan, Goose Gossage and Hank Aaron are really, really amazing experiences. Thomas [Tull] told me in a conversation is that we shouldn’t think this film is about the fastest pitch, but a film in which parents with their kids could pull out the DVD every spring training to watch together and remind ourselves on why we love this game so much. This story should still be good fifty years from now. That’s why we had to talk to every person in this film. We talked to twenty Hall of Famers and maybe ten future Hall of Famers. We talked to Derek Jeter, Justin Verlander, Craig Krimbrel and even David Price, who is amazing. Hopefully, people who watch the film will really enjoy spending 82-minutes with these people talking with such passions into this amazing thing we loved called baseball. And for those who are not baseball fans can sit to watch with us can say, “Ah. Now I understand on why you loved this so much.” FASTBALL will be in select theaters and on-demand this Friday, March 25. Also check out certain shows on Tugg events by clicking here. Read more at: https://tr.im/NIkoZ

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://www.latino-review.com/news/919hua6kl95zxjmkrwtp90217inj0d

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  • 'Fastball' Documentary Explores Classic Showdown Between Pitcher And Batter

    The new documentary Fastball explores the classic showdown between pitcher and batter. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with director Jonathan Hock about his film, and with David Price, a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

    ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

    In September 2010, Aroldis Chapman, a rookie relief pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds, made history. A fastball he threw in the eighth inning of a game in San Diego was clocked at 105.1 miles per hour. It was the fastest pitch ever recorded in the major leagues, and it added to a century of lore and legend about the fastball.

    (SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "FASTBALL")

    TIMOTHY VERSTYNEN: The pitcher is pushing the limits of how fast a ball can go. And that limit is coming close to the limit of how fast a hitter can make a decision. And so you have these two extremes of human performance doing this kind of dance right at the edge of where their biology is constraining them.

    SIEGEL: That's psychologist Timothy Verstynen of Carnegie Mellon University. The science, history and sheer marvel of the game's fastest pitch are explored in a new documentary called "Fastball." Jonathan Hock wrote and directed the film and joins us from New York. Welcome to the program, Jonathan.

    JONATHAN HOCK: Thank you, Robert.

    SIEGEL: And the film features scientists like Verstynen and several players, including left-handed pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox who joins us from Fort Meyers, Fla., where his team spends spring training. Welcome to you, David Price.

    DAVID PRICE: Thank you very much.

    SIEGEL: Let's start, Jonathan, with you. How fast is a great fastball?

    HOCK: You know, there are a lot of guys throwing 98, a hundred now, and that used to be blinding speed, and now it's kind of typical of what's coming out of the bullpen. But there's a lot more to it than just speed - release point, movement, late movement, especially

    SIEGEL: David Price, there's a moment in the documentary where we see you striking out a man and throwing a ball, according to the speed gun, 100 miles per hour. What was that like?

    PRICE: That was a first for me. I remember that moment very clearly, you know? I was in the bottom of the fifth. You know, my pitch count was at a hundred or higher, so I knew this was - you know, it was probably my last hitter.

    I think it was a two-two count, and you know, just threw a good fastball up in the leg. He swung through it. And I just remember walking off the field to the first-base dugout. And I looked up 'cause they had a radar gun reading right there and in Detroit above our dugout, and I saw 100. But that was special.

    SIEGEL: When you threw that pitch, could you feel that there was something different about this fastball from a fastball that might be clocked in at 97 miles per hour?

    PRICE: No, I didn't feel any different. You know, I like to kind of play it to golf. You know, a lot of the golfers on the - on tour, you know, they're not - they're never swinger a hundred percent. You know, very rarely will they ever really go at a golf ball unless they really need to.

    And you know, less is more. And I feel like if I can keep my mechanics in line and just get on top of that baseball, you know, I can still throw the baseball just as hard as if I was to hump up and try and really get after it.

    SIEGEL: I want to play a couple of clips from "Fastball," from the film, that address the question of, say, the difference between a 92-mile-per-hour fastball and a 100-mile-per-hour fastball. First, at one point, the narrator, Kevin Costner, delivers a scientific comparison.

    (SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "FASTBALL")

    KEVIN COSTNER: If the two pitches were thrown together, when the 100-mile-an-hour pitch reaches home plate, the 92-mile-an-hour pitch would still have 4-and-a-half feet left to travel.

    SIEGEL: So that's the result of serious calculations. Brandon Phillips, the second baseman of the Cincinnati Reds, describes being a batter and looking at the difference between a 92-mile-per-hour pitch and a hundred-mile-per-hour pitch. He describes it a little bit differently.

    (SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "FASTBALL")

    BRANDON PHILLIPS: When you're thrown a 92, you can read the Major League logo on the ball. You can see the seams. You can see all that. But when the guy throwing a hundred...

    (CHEERING)

    PHILLIPS: ...It look like a golf ball.

    SIEGEL: (Laughter) It looks like a golf ball, David Price - back to golf.

    PRICE: (Laughter) That definitely makes sense. You know, whenever you see a guy throwing, you know, upper-90s, a lot of people say that the baseball looks about the size of a bb, so I definitely get what he's saying there.

    SIEGEL: One of the questions that you address - the big question that you address in "Fastball," Jonathan, is who actually threw the fastest fastball. And I was very surprised to learn how different the methods have been for measuring the speed of a fastball. Nowadays we have this radar gun that's measuring it. But before that, it was a much more random kind of science.

    HOCK: Yeah. We sort of took it for granted when we began the project that the, you know, the current timings were just sort of the same as anything that had ever been timed before and when Aroldis Chapman hit 105.1, that was it.

    But what we discovered with the help of the scientists from Carnegie Mellon - that the method they used over the years to scientifically time some pitchers, which hadn't happened that often before the radar gun - but it did happen, and the methods they did use were accurate. But the way they set it up was a little bit lacking.

    SIEGEL: In 1939, as the movie shows us, Bob Feller, the great pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, wanted to be timed.

    HOCK: Bob Feller was the first pitcher who really wanted to know how fast his fastball went. And he tried many ways of measuring this. And the first one and the most amusing one to watch is - he literally races his fastball against a police motorcycle. They filmed this. It was in Chicago. And you see this cop racing in on a motorcycle, going 86 miles an hour.

    And just as he passes Feller, Feller, with his eye on the cop, winds up and lets go of the ball. And Feller's fastball hits the target before the cop going 86 miles an hour. And then Feller was in his street clothes, you know, with hard-soled shoes, pitching on the street without a mound.

    SIEGEL: (Laughter) There's a scientific consensus in this film that a fastball cannot rise.

    HOCK: Yeah. The idea is that when we're tracking an object in motion, we're not actually looking directly at the object. We're looking slightly ahead of it - a tenth, two-tenths of a second ahead of where it goes, and our brain then fills in the missing frames. And when we anticipate a ball going the normal speed - say, 90, 92 - our eye, as a batter, races to the spot where a 92-mile-an-hour pitch will cross home plate, and we swing there.

    The hundred-mile-an-hour pitch thrown as a four-seamer, as David describes in the film, with backspin is going to create what they call Magnus force, which creates a slight lift on the ball. It doesn't actually lift the ball, but the ball won't fall. So it crosses the plate higher than the batter expects it to, and so his - he's literally seeing the ball rise because whatever part of his brain is interpreting what his eyes are seeing is actually making the ball rise.

    SIEGEL: David, are you persuaded by what Jonathan just said, explaining the - what he would say is the illusion of the rising fastball?

    PRICE: I really don't think the baseball can rise, but if there's anybody in baseball that could do that, it would be Darren O'Day just from, you know, his arm spot of where he throws and then him still being able to generate, you know, 87, you know, to 90 mile an hour that gives that look of that.

    SIEGEL: We're on the eve of a new Major League Baseball season. Jonathan Hock, David Price, how exciting is that for the two of you?

    PRICE: This time of year, you know, before the season gets going is always exciting. And then to be throwing with a new team and a new organization - that's always exciting as well.

    HOCK: For me, the - baseball is the soundtrack of my summers for 50 years now. And there are two kinds of life we live every year. The six months where every night we can turn on the radio and put a ballgame on in the background is - that's the half of life I prefer.

    SIEGEL: Filmmaker Jonathan Hock, whose new document is called "Fastball," and David Price, whose new team is the Boston Red Sox, thanks to both of you for talking with us.

    HOCK: Thank you, Robert.

    PRICE: Not a problem, thank you.

    (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

    SIEGEL: The documentary "Fastball" opens nationwide this weekend, and it's available On Demand.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://www.npr.org/2016/03/24/471762379/fastball-documentary-explores-classic-showdown-between-pitcher-and-batter

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  • Thursday, March 24, 2016 “FASTBALL” TO PREMIERE IN PITTSBURGH

    “FASTBALL” TO PREMIERE IN PITTSBURGH

    Film Stars CMU Scientists and Hall of Famers

    By Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 / shilo@cmu.edu

    and Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982 / jhduffy@cmu.edu

    Watch the trailer.

    “Fastball,” the baseball documentary that celebrates the sport’s signature pitch and aims to answer the question of who threw the fastest fastball of all-time, will premiere in Pittsburgh with several screenings scheduled.

    Narrated by Kevin Costner and directed by nine-time Emmy-Award winner Jonathan Hock, the film includes interviews with more than 20 Hall of Fame players, including Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Goose Gossage and Bob Gibson.

    It also has several connections to Pittsburgh, a.k.a The City of Champions. Three Carnegie Mellon scientists — physicist Gregg Franklin and neuroscientists Michael J. Tarr and Timothy Verstynen — are prominently featured; CMU Trustee and Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull produced the documentary; and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ superstar centerfielder Andrew McCutcheon appears in it.

    Fastball

    Fastball speeds can reach close to — and sometimes over — 100 miles per hour, requiring baseball players to make split-second decisions. Tarr and Verstynen talk about how a batter’s brain races to process an incoming fastball.

    “Baseball is perhaps the ultimate test of neural abilities,” said Verstynen, assistant professor of psychology and member of CMU’s BrainHub neuroscience initiative. “A fastball can travel so fast that the batter’s brain may not even have the time to make a decision based on what he sees.”

    Franklin talks about the physics of the fastball, addressing some of the most controversial questions in baseball: Is there such thing as a rising fastball, and who really threw the fastest pitch? For the latter, Franklin uses physics calculations to compare the speeds of fastballs throughout history.

    “Not to spoil the movie, but the fastest pitch on record might not really be the fastest pitch,” said Franklin, a professor of physics. “A fastball is fastest immediately after being thrown, and it loses speed as it approaches the plate. So recordings taken using today’s technology, which measures a pitch’s speed close to the mound, will appear faster than pitches measured using older technologies that recorded speeds closer to the plate.”

    Pittsburgh Screenings

    Harris Theater

    Friday, March 25 through Thursday, March 31

    Various times

    View schedule

    Carnegie Mellon University

    8 p.m., Friday, April 15

    Kresge Theater, College of Fine Arts

    Franklin, Verstynen and Tarr, professor and head of the Department of Psychology, will join Hock and Pittsburgh Pirates Director of Performance Chris Johnson for a panel discussion following the screening. The event is part of CMU’s Carnival weekend, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

    Watch the trailer.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2016/march/fastball-premiere.html

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  • Science brought to forefront in 'Fastball' documentary

    Bryce Harper smiled and waved his hand across his face dismissively.

    “I think scientists are crazy if they think that,” the Washington Nationals slugger said during a scene for the movie “Fastball,” noting that flame-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel's fastball rises every time he throws one.

    The laws of physics, of course, state otherwise, as Carnegie Mellon professor of physics Gregg Franklin points out in the documentary film that opens Friday.

    No matter what some of the all-time greats tell you — and Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt and Bob Gibson do just that in the film — a pitch traveling upward simply isn't true.

    “(A 100-mph fastball) will give the illusion the ball hops upward as it crosses home plate,” Franklin said during the film. “It's not because it actually does — it's the difference between where the batter's brain is telling him the ball is going to be and where it actually is when it crosses home plate.”

    Franklin drew a simple diagram on a chalkboard and held a piece of thick chalk as he talked, a real CMU Ph.D. in physics appearing as if he is straight out of central casting for a CMU Ph.D. in physics.

    The juxtaposition of the input from him and three other Carnegie Mellon faculty members, along with the thoughts of some of baseball's all-time greats, makes for an illuminating look into one of the sports world's most basic acts.

    “The primal battle between a man with a stick and a man with a rock,” is the tagline for “Fastball,” which was produced by Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull.

    The movie premieres in Pittsburgh by way of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Harris Theatre, downtown.

    Tull serves on the board of trustees for Carnegie Mellon, providing one of the local connections to the film that is narrated by Kevin Costner and has the blessing of Major League Baseball.

    Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen is prominently figured in the film, which has scenes shot at PNC Park. Neuroscientists Michael J. Tarr, Nathan Urban and Timothy Verstynen join Franklin as Carnegie Mellon faculty who explain the science behind the pitch.

    Legends of the game such as Aaron, Schmidt, Gibson, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan provide their perspective on the magic and allure — as well as what it's like to throw or hit — the fastball.

    Verstynen points out that each synaptic connection in the brain takes roughly 2 milliseconds — and the difference between a 90-mph pitch (450 milliseconds to home plate) and a 100-mph pitch (396 milliseconds to home plate) is immeasurable to the batter.

    “That's 25 (more) computations ... to make a decision,” Verstynen said.

    “How fast you can react? How fast can you move your eyes?” Tarr, head of CMU's Department of Psychology, rhetorically said in an interview this week. “You're essentially reaching your limits. You can only move it once or twice as it is — and if it's moving much faster, the likelihood of predicting where ball goes decreases that much moreso.”

    “Fastball” isn't all science — it delves into the history of the baseball pitch, specifically, the game's all-time hardest throwers.

    From Walter Johnson to Bob Feller, to Ryan and current New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman, each man who once held the mythical title of “world's hardest thrower” is explored and profiled.

    Franklin, using historical reports of past (pre-standardized radar gun) top pitch speeds, concludes through calculations that Ryan (108.5 mph) is the hardest thrower of all-time.

    Franklin's research lies in nuclear physics — not the relatively-simple Newtonian physics of baseball.

    “The mission of a department like ours is both the generation and dissemination of knowledge,” Franklin said in a phone interview. “I'm a nuclear physicist, so I do particular physics, which is very different than this in terms of actual experiments. But, still, physics is physics, and helping people understand what the fundamental rules are of physics and how it affects our lives is pretty universal.”

    “Fastball” brings baseball fans closer to science.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/10196764-74/fastball-physics-pitch

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  • Speed still intriguing in 'Fastball'

    The irony of the push to speed up the game of baseball – the amount of time between pitches, between commercial breaks, between anything that might actually appeal to the iGeneration – is that speed has always been at the heart of the game.

    396 milliseconds.

    That’s all that separates a hitter and the heaviest, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fastballs in a new feature-length presentation searching for the hardest thrower ever. Opening March 25 at the Digital Gym in San Diego, the 85-minute "Fastball" calls on narrator Kevin Costner, baseball legends like Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson and Hank Aaron and current stars Justin Verlander and Andrew McCutchen in a narrative blending the history, mythology and physics of the ultimate mano-a-mano showdown.

    At its best, Thomas Tull-produced feature ("42," "Straight Outta Compton," "The Dark Knight") journeys into the past to relive how a munitions laboratory clocked Walter Johnson’s fastball, how Bob Feller spotted a speeding motorcycle a 10-foot head start before racing his heater past it and how the game’s most notorious fastball simply couldn’t find the strike zone often enough to ever reach “The Show.”

    As far as modern day heat, local baseball fans will remember Tony Gwynn Jr. flailing away as the Cuban-born Aroldis Chapman infamously pushed his fastball past 105 mph at the Padres’ expense and rejoice in seeing No. 19 himself join a roundtable discussion of the most dominating pitchers they faced.

    The elder Gwynn whittled it down to two: One from the left side of the mound (Randy Johnson) and one from the right (Ryan).

    Tales of the latter’s exploits alone – from the first pitch ever clocked at 100 mph to his assault on the strikeout record book to his last fastball hitting ever at 46 years old hitting 98 mph – is a reminder that every generation, too, has a legend to stack up against the likes of Johnson, Feller and the enigmatic Steve Dalkowski.

    “It was high heat,” Johnny Bench recalls as he, Gwynn and George Brett declare Ryan the hardest thrower of their generation, “and from the time you left the dugout you were starting to swing.”

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/mar/23/baseball-movie-fastball-hard-throwing-pitchers/

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  • Derek Jeter, Aroldis Chapman talk hardest heat in the game in ‘Fastball’

    What’s it like facing some of the hardest heat in the game? Let Derek Jeter take you into an at-bat against one of baseball’s fireballers, like the former Yankee captain does in the upcoming documentary film, “Fastball.”

    Jeter recalls facing Troy Percival, the Angels’ intimidating reliever, in an early-career at-bat. Percival, all razor stubble and attitude, threw a fastball regularly clocked toward the upper 90s during his career.

    “I remember my first year, I was 20 years old and I was wide-eyed. Overwhelmed,” Jeter says in the 85-minute movie. It was one of Jeter’s first games at Yankee Stadium during his callup in 1995.

    “I remember getting in the box, got a 3-2 count and the catcher says to me, ‘Well, there’s no mystery what he’s going to throw right here.’ And he struck me out with a fastball. I got sent down right after that, but I just wanted to come back and get a chance to redeem myself.”

    Of course, Jeter went on to a great career. But Percival was always tough on him — Jeter was 3-for-19 with five strikeouts against him in the regular season and 0-for-3 with two more K’s in the postseason.

    The movie, which is narrated by Kevin Costner, is chock-full of snippets like that and features interviews with the likes of Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, George Brett and Bob Gibson. “Fastball,” written and directed by Jonathan Hock and produced by Thomas Tull, opens March 25 at the Village East in New York and also elsewhere and on demand.

    The flick delves into the physics of the pitch and the mythology, too. There’s a segment on Steve Dalkowski, the pitcher who never made it but some said was the hardest-thrower ever.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/jeter-chapman-talk-hardest-heat-agme-fastball-article-1.2574716

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  • The World's Obsession With the Fastball Is Unraveled in This MLB Documentary

    Although we all enjoy watching home runs soar behind 500 feet, there’s nothing like hearing the clap of a 100 mph fastball hitting the catcher’s leather mitt. Narrated by actor Kevin Costner, the upcoming documentary Fastball uncovers the world’s obsession with speed and competition. Hank Aaron, Derek Jeter, and many other MLB hall-of-famers deliver their own personal experiences on the game’s most iconic defensive threat and what it means in the world of sport.


    ORIGINAL SOURCE:

    http://hypebeast.com/2016/2/fastball-documentary-trailer-hank-aaron-nolan-ryan-derek-jeter

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  • This Trailer For Baseball Docu, FASTBALL, Narrated By Kevin Costner. In theaters 3/25

    Fastball

    Watch this trailer for FASTBALL, a documentary narrated by the man who’s been in multiple baseball films, Kevin Costner. FASTBALL will be available nationwide with Tugg.com on March 24 and in select theaters and on demand March 25.

    Check out the trailer and details below!

    Los Angeles, CA (February 16, 2016) — On Thursday, March 24, people in more than 50 Major and Minor League markets will be on deck for one-night-only fan screenings of “Fastball.” This timeless documentary will enthrall baseball fans young and old and is now available via Tugg Inc., the web-based platform that allows fans, teams and organizations to bring movies to their own local theater for screenings. Fans should head to the official Fastball Tugg website to request their own show and check back often as additional screenings are added.

    The documentary, which is narrated by Kevin Costner (“Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham”), also features active Major Leaguers Justin Verlander, Andrew McCutchen and David Price as well as baseball legends in Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Derek Jeter and the late Tony Gwynn. The feature from writer/director Jonathan Hock and producer Thomas Tull will also be released in theaters and on demand March 25. It is already available for pre-order on iTunes.

    The essence of baseball is the primal battle between the pitcher and batter, but the magic of the game arises from that confrontation, only 396 milliseconds in the making. The mysteries and memories of Baseball’s greatest heroes are revealed in “Fastball,” featuring interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to current All-Stars.

    Based on the original idea by the film’s producer, Thomas Tull, who also produced the Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” “Fastball” is peppered with archival footage of baseball’s greatest moments plus original high-speed 4K footage and motion graphics that unlock the secrets hidden within a ball traveling over 100 mph. While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the physics and concludes with a clear verdict – “Fastball” tells the story of the game itself.

    Jonathan Hock’s history with sports runs deep. He is a nine-time Emmy® Award winning producer, director, writer and editor. His first documentary feature “Through the Fire” had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005, and his later films “The Lost Son of Havana” (2009), “Off the Rez” (2011) as well as “Fastball” also premiered there. Hock has directed four documentaries for ESPN’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning “30 For 30” series, including “Unguarded,” which was named Best Documentary of the year by Sports Illustrated; “The Best That Never Was” (2010); “Survive and Advance” (2013) and “Of Miracles and Men” (2015). Hock’s series of documentary shorts, “The Finish Line: Steve Nash,” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

    Producer Thomas Tull is the CEO and Chairman of Legendary Entertainment, a leading media company with film (Legendary Pictures), television and digital (Legendary Television and Digital Media) and comics (Legendary Comics) divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to mainstream audiences with a targeted focus on the powerful fandom demographic. Through complete or joint ownership, Legendary has built a library of marquee media properties and has established itself as a trusted brand which consistently delivers high-quality, commercial entertainment including some of the world’s most popular intellectual property. In aggregate, Legendary Pictures-associated productions have realized grosses of more than $12 billion worldwide at the box office.

    Producing with Tull are sports film veterans Philip Aromando (“30 for 30”) and Mike Tollin (“Sin City Saints”) along with Executive Producer Jack Selby.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  • Watch Trailer For ‘Fastball’ Narrated By Kevin Costner

    On Thursday, March 24, people in more than 50 Major and Minor League markets will be on deck for one-night-only fan screenings of “Fastball.” This timeless documentary will enthrall baseball fans young and old and is now available via Tugg Inc., the web-based platform that allows fans, teams and organizations to bring movies to their own local theater for screenings. Fans should head to the official Fastball TUGG website to request their own show and check back often as additional screenings are added.

    The documentary, which is narrated by Kevin Costner (“Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham”), also features active Major Leaguers Justin Verlander, Andrew McCutchen and David Price as well as baseball legends in Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Derek Jeter and the late Tony Gwynn. The feature from writer/director Jonathan Hock and producer Thomas Tull will also be released in theaters and on demand March 25. It is already available for pre-order on iTunes.

    The essence of baseball is the primal battle between the pitcher and batter, but the magic of the game arises from that confrontation, only 396 milliseconds in the making. The mysteries and memories of Baseball’s greatest heroes are revealed in “Fastball,” featuring interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to current All-Stars.

    Based on the original idea by the film’s producer, Thomas Tull, who also produced the Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” “Fastball” is peppered with archival footage of baseball’s greatest moments plus original high-speed 4K footage and motion graphics that unlock the secrets hidden within a ball traveling over 100 mph. While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the physics and concludes with a clear verdict – “Fastball” tells the story of the game itself.

    Jonathan Hock’s history with sports runs deep. He is a nine-time Emmy® Award winning producer, director, writer and editor. His first documentary feature “Through the Fire” had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005, and his later films “The Lost Son of Havana” (2009), “Off the Rez” (2011) as well as “Fastball” also premiered there. Hock has directed four documentaries for ESPN’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning “30 For 30” series, including “Unguarded,” which was named Best Documentary of the year by Sports Illustrated; “The Best That Never Was” (2010); “Survive and Advance” (2013) and “Of Miracles and Men” (2015). Hock’s series of documentary shorts, “The Finish Line: Steve Nash,” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.



    ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  • Trailer Premiere: Baseball documentary 'Fastball'

    Exclusive trailer premiere for the baseball documentary "Fastball," narrated by Kevin Costner. Legendary Pictures

    ORIGINAL SOURCE



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  • “Fastball” – The Movie is Coming and Worth a Watch

    On Thursday, March 24, people in more than 50 Major and Minor League markets will be on deck for one-night-only fan screenings of “Fastball.” This timeless documentary will enthrall baseball fans young and old and is now available via Tugg Inc., the web-based platform that allows fans, teams and organizations to bring movies to their own local theater for screenings. Fans should head to the official Fastball Tugg website to request their own show and check back often as additional screenings are added.

    The documentary, which is narrated by Kevin Costner (“Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham”), also features active Major Leaguers Justin Verlander, Andrew McCutchen andDavid Price as well as baseball legends in Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Derek Jeter and the late Tony Gwynn. The feature from writer/director Jonathan Hock and producer Thomas Tull will also be released in theaters and on demand March 25. It is already available for pre-order on iTunes.

    The essence of baseball is the primal battle between the pitcher and batter, but the magic of the game arises from that confrontation, only 396 milliseconds in the making. The mysteries and memories of Baseball’s greatest heroes are revealed in “Fastball,” featuring interviews with dozens of former players, from legendary Hall of Famers to current All-Stars.

    Based on the original idea by the film’s producer, Thomas Tull, who also produced the Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” “Fastball” is peppered with archival footage of baseball’s greatest moments plus original high-speed 4K footage and motion graphics that unlock the secrets hidden within a ball traveling over 100 mph. While players, historians, and scientists might disagree on who was actually the fastest pitcher in history – and yes, the film does the physics and concludes with a clear verdict – “Fastball” tells the story of the game itself.

    Jonathan Hock’s history with sports runs deep. He is a nine-time Emmy® Award winning producer, director, writer and editor. His first documentary feature “Through the Fire” had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005, and his later films “The Lost Son of Havana” (2009), “Off the Rez” (2011) as well as “Fastball” also premiered there. Hock has directed four documentaries for ESPN’s Emmy and Peabody Award winning “30 For 30” series, including “Unguarded,” which was named Best Documentary of the year by Sports Illustrated; “The Best That Never Was” (2010); “Survive and Advance” (2013) and “Of Miracles and Men” (2015). Hock’s series of documentary shorts, “The Finish Line: Steve Nash,” was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

    Producer Thomas Tull is the CEO and Chairman of Legendary Entertainment, a leading media company with film (Legendary Pictures), television and digital (Legendary Television and Digital Media) and comics (Legendary Comics) divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to mainstream audiences with a targeted focus on the powerful fandom demographic. Through complete or joint ownership, Legendary has built a library of marquee media properties and has established itself as a trusted brand which consistently delivers high-quality, commercial entertainment including some of the world’s most popular intellectual property. In aggregate, Legendary Pictures-associated productions have realized grosses of more than $12 billion worldwide at the box office.

    Producing with Tull are sports film veterans Philip Aromando (“30 for 30”) and Mike Tollin (“Sin City Saints”) along with Executive Producer Jack Selby.

    For more follow @FastballMovie across social media or visit fastballmovie.com.


    ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  • TRIBECA 2015: "FASTBALL"

    Primary_fastball_web_01

    by Sheila O'Malley

    "A few pitchers in the majors have thrived without a real fastball – junk men like Eddie Lopat and Mike Cuellar, superior control artists like Bobby Shantz and Randy Jones, knuckleballers like Hoyt Wilhelm and Charlie Hough – but almost everyone else has had to hump up and throw at least an occasional no-nonsense hard one, which crosses the plate at eighty-fie miles per hour or better, and thus causes the batter to – well, to think a little." - Roger Angell, "On the Ball," The New Yorker, 1976

    Jonathan Hock's exhilarating documentary, "Fastball," wants to make us "think a little" too, about the history of the fastball, the mentality that goes into creating a successful major league pitcher (either a starter or a closer), the experience of the batters having to face pitchers like that, what it is like to try to swing at a ball whizzing by at 98 mph (Derek Jeter says that a fastball "sounds like trouble"), and the whole statistical and data-driven obsession that surrounds the sport of baseball. If you are not familiar with this level of baseball nerdiness, then "Fastball" will be a revelation, and hopefully an entertaining one. If you are familiar (dinner-table conversations throughout my own childhood, for example, involved leading questions such as: "Who threw the fastest ever?" "Who has the most unbeatable record?" "Who was the best pitcher ever?"), then "Fastball" will satisfy on a deep and extremely specific level. "Fastball" is informative, even for those well-versed in the topic.

    Great baseball players often cannot explain how they do what they do (they speak about being in a "zone," or getting into a "flow"), but they are almost incapable of being un-interesting about the game. Hock has filled his documentary with baseball players talking, reminiscing, analyzing, commiserating. There is not one dull moment. Questions like "who threw the fastest?" take on huge importance to those who play the game, especially since the radar gun didn't come along until 1974. "Fastball" starts with Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander wondering how he would "stack up" against the legends from the past, guys like Walter Johnson and Bob Feller (Ty Cobb said that Johnson's fastball "hissed like a train" as it went by; Ted Williams said that Bob Feller's pitch was "the hardest pitch" he had ever seen). Both Johnson and Feller were known as the fastest pitchers of their day, and much was done, using the technology of the day, to figure out just how fast those baseballs went.

    Hock (who has directed a number of ESPN's "30 for 30" episodes) organizes his material in a fresh and fun way, mixing grainy newsreel footage of 1920s baseball games, with current ESPN footage, slowed down to a crawl in order to perceive every millisecond of every fastball's trajectory. Hock has gathered together a murderer's row of Hall of Famers (the late Tony Gwynn, Al Kaline, George Brett, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench) sitting around reminiscing, talking about the scariest pitchers they ever faced, who they thought was the best/fastest/hardest. Joe Morgan talks about his first time against Sandy Koufax, saying, "It took me two at-bats before I even fouled the ball." There are interviews with Derek Jeter, Aroldis Chapman (already a legend), David Price, Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron.

    Hock also calls in experts from the fields of physics, neurobiology, and visual cognition to speak about air movement around flying objects, how the human eye perceives things (and at what speed that becomes impossible), how the mind can make a decision in a millisecond based on the information given to a batter by the pitcher's wind-up. It's all quite comprehensible, and enthusiastically presented. A physicist draws helpful diagrams for us on a blackboard. Numbers and equations proliferate. The screen is split in two, showing the difference between a 90 mph fastball and a 100 mph fastball. Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips says that at 90 mph, he can see the logo on the baseball as it comes at him, but at 100 mph, "it looks like a golf ball."

    "Fastball" is broken up into different sections, using compellingly-titled chapter markers: "The Big Train." "Hoot." "The Closer." Along with the legends of the past, a couple of famous pitchers still with us are profiled and interviewed: Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, and Rich "The Goose" Gossage. Bob Gibson, who played 17 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the most intimidating guys to ever play the game (he jokes that he had bad eyesight, so his "glare", interpreted by the batters as predatory was actually Gibson trying to see the catcher making the signs). Other players still speak of Gibson with a lingering mix of awe and respect. Nobody liked to face him. Hank Aaron says, of Gibson, "He believed he owned part of that plate and he was gonna get it." Gibson elaborates on that, saying, "Half of that plate is mine. Now you gotta figure out which part I'm coming after." If Gibson had to hit a batter to claim "his" part of the plate, then so be it. Watching clips of Bob Gibson pitch, one is stunned by the ferocity of the movement: once he lets the ball loose, Gibson ends up in a nearly horizontal position across the mound. Roger Angell wrote a huge profile of Bob Gibson for The New Yorker after Gibson retired; Angell interviewed Pete Rose who said of Gibson, "I sure as hell don’t miss batting against him, but I miss him in the game.”

    Nolan Ryan's stunning career is one of those stories that continues to elude rational explanation, and Hock has put together a compilation of footage showing that journey, where it started, where it ended up. The numbers are still so staggering. Ryan says that at the height of his powers, he knew that if he "hit [his] spot, [the batters] weren't gonna hit it." Wade Boggs admits, "It was always a tough at-bat" against Ryan. If you've ever been to a baseball game where a pitcher dominates, then you know how things slow practically to a standstill. The pitcher does not allow anything to happen, and that kind of game is almost more thrilling than a game featuring lots of action. The fastball is one of the most effective ways for a pitcher to dominate (and it is also, as the baseball coaches confess in the documentary, the hardest thing to scout for since high school pitchers often haven't grown into their arms yet.)

    The excitement of the topic is captured in Hock's filming-style, Kevin Costner's stately narration, as well as the portentous thrilling original score by Tony Morales. One of the things that "Fastball" really captures is that baseball, even with all its complexity, even with the fact that it is a team sport, comes down to a one-on-one competition, a Clash-of-the-Titans showdown between the guy on the mound and the guy at the plate. Baseball is mythical and emotional to those who love it. "Fastball" not only gets that, but Hock has found a form to express that in ways that carry.

    "Fastball" plays again tomorrow, Friday, 4/24 at 3:30pm; Saturday, 4/25 at 2:30pm; Sunday, 4/26 at 12:30pm.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  • Pitching by numbers: Fastball provides scientific looks at baseball

    BY

    Fastball, a baseball documentary three years in the making, debuted Monday night at the Tribeca Film Festival. Produced by Thomas Tull and directed in association with Major League Baseball by Jonathan Hock (director of an impressive slate of award-winning 30-for-30 films on everything from the NC State Wolfpack’s 1983 NCAA tournament run to forgotten football player Marcus Dupree,) Fastball celebrates baseball’s signature pitch and aims to definitively answer the age-old debate: who threw the fastest fastball of all-time?

    The resulting documentary, narrated by Kevin Costner, is a fascinating dive into the history, physics and mythology of the game – full of gorgeous slow-mo pitching footage, interviews with Hall of Famers from Goose Gossage to Bob Gibson to Hank Aaron, a rare appearance by fastball cult figure Steve Dalkowski, and enough chalkboard math equations to earn the viewer a Ph.D. in baseball science. You might not be able to throw heat, but next time you’re chucking peanut shells on the ground at your local ballpark, impress your friends with this guide to the most memorable facts and figures dissected in the film:

    • It takes a 100 mph fastball 396 milliseconds to cover the sixty-feet, six-inch distance between the mound and home plate.
    • The 50-millisecond difference between trying to hit a 92 mph fastball versus a 100 mph fastball is immense: “At 92 miles per hour, you can see the seams and MLB logo on the ball, at 100 mph it becomes a golf ball,” says Cleveland Indians second baseman Brandon Phillips.
    • Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson’s 1968 season ERA of 1.12 is 35% lower than any other number in the live-ball era.
    • The Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman, may have thrown a 105.1 mph fastball in 2010 to set a Major League record, but (SPOILER ALERT) when you correct for radar gun placement, Nolan Ryan’s legendary 1974 heater clocked at 100.9 was really the top speed ever, at a blazing 108.5 miles per hour.
    • And that, folks, is about the outer limit of human ability; any faster and the force required would literally rip the pitcher’s arm off. (Whoever said physics wasn’t cool?)

    ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  • Movie trailer for 'Fastball' follows Matt Harvey byline about fastballs

    By David Brown | Baseball Writercaption goes here

    'Of course I wrote it myself.' (USATSI)

    Following a post by New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in The Players' Tribune, Derek Jeter's venture, is a preview for the documentary "Fastball," a movie that aims to celebrate baseball's seminal pitch, getting into the physics, history and lore of it. The photography looks amazing, and the science sounds astounding. The movie also provocatively purports to discuss who threw the fastest fastball ever — possibly a reference to Steve Dalkowski.

    Perhaps you need to be a geek to get excited, but if you like consuming baseball, the 87-minute movie seems like a must see.

    Harvey doesn't reference the film in his post, but it's good supplemental reading material. Harvey says his earliest memory of pitching is the sound a fastball makes in a catcher's mitt. The "pop!" He called it "addicting," and that it drove him to throw as hard as he could every time he pitched. That was immature, Harvey said, and that started to evolve during college. Anymore, he gets more excited about seeing the umpire signal for a "strike" than anything else.

    Harvey also tells an anecdote about his days at the University of North Carolina, when he lost control of how hard he could throw his fastball — going from 94 mph one moment to 86 the next with no idea how he got either place. It was a crisis that forced him to break apart his entire delivery and start his mechanics from scratch.

    Neat stuff, as is his analysis of why Bartolo Colon still gets batters out at 90 mph:

    Last week against Atlanta, Bartolo threw 77 pitches — and 71 of them were fastballs (60 were strikes). That's the thing — every pitcher has a fastball that looks and feels slightly different. There's a big difference between some guy's 95 mph fastball and Bartolo's heavy ball that sinks and tails and moves at the last minute. Bartolo's fastball might clock in at 90, but his ability to throw a well-located pitch makes him without a doubt one of the best pitchers in the game right now. Some people say my fastball feels heavy, but Bartolo's is a bowling ball.

    Harvey dubs himself "The New York City Bureau Chief" in his byline. It's been alleged that the player-writers at The Players Tribune simply dictate their stories to actual writers, who do the dirty work, from transcription to cleaning up the grammar. (Hey, that sounds like what writers sometimes do already!) It would be nice if Matt Harvey actually wrote his post, because it's informative and entertaining. But even if he just phoned it in, well, he's still telling a good story. And it's what famous people do with autobiographies, and nobody really minds that.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE

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  • Notes: 'Fastball' documentary a home run for fans

    The film begins with Justin Verlander talking about the first time he threw 100 mph, and musing about how his fastball might have compared to Bob Feller’s. For the next 85 minutes, the subject is fastballs and only fastballs.

    Hard-core fans will be spellbound. Even casual fans will be enthralled. The filmmakers, in their own words, explore "how the magic of baseball can boil down to the 396 milliseconds it takes a 100 mph fastball to reach home plate." Kevin Costner is the narrator. But current stars, 20 Hall of Famers, writers and even scientists tell the story.

    The documentary — not surprisingly called, "Fastball" — premieres Monday night at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. I’ll admit to a certain bias — I went to the University of Pennsylvania with the writer and director, Jonathan Hock. But Jon already has won nine Emmys without my endorsement. And you can trust my recommendation on this one, as opposed to say, my preseason picks.

    Honestly, I can’t pick out out my favorite part of the film. It’s cool to hear Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and David Price talk about their art. It’s also cool to hear a panel of five Hall of Famers — George Brett, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and the late Tony Gwynn — banter about the toughest pitchers they faced.

    Rich Gossage, Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan reflect in great detail about their careers. Derek Jeter and Hank Aaron show more personality than we’re perhaps accustomed to seeing. The rarely interviewed Eddie Murray shares his thoughts, as do fellow Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Wade Boggs and the late Ernie Banks.

    I loved not only the rare footage from Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, but also the section about Steve Dalkowski, the Orioles’ hard-throwing minor-league legend; the first manager I covered, the late Cal Ripken Sr., told great stories about Dalkowski, as did many others with the Orioles at the start of my baseball-writing career.

    The most compelling aspect of the film, though, might be its science. Aaron, Gibson and Verlander talk anecdotally about whether a fastball can rise, and scientists try to explain the phenomenon. Even more intriguing, scientists make corrections on the past measurements of certain greats, and try to determine who threw the fastest pitch of all time.

    The film, produced by Thomas Tull, a board member of the Hall of Fame, will be screened four times this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. After that, it will hit the festival circuit, and a national release is expected around the time of the World Series.

    ORIGINAL SOURCE


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  • The Art of the 'Fastball': Candid interviews add heat to doc at Tribeca Film Festiva

    BY

    Fastball: Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Aroldis Chapman, Steve Dalkowski, Derek Jeter. A cast of at least 20 Hall of Famers and more discuss how the magic of baseball boils down to the 396 milliseconds it takes a 100 mph fastball to reach home plate. Director: Jonathan Hock (1:27). At Tribeca Film Festival.

    * * *

    Justin Verlander is the first of many baseball stars to appear on camera in “Fastball,” a documentary in the Tribeca Film Festival about the physics, mythology, and primal spectacle of pitchers hurling baseballs upwards of 100 mph.

    Over the next two hours, Verlander is followed by colorful observations from the likes of Bob Gibson, Aroldis Chapman, and Nolan Ryan, but a lot of the film’s best quotes come from the hitters who have faced the hottest fire — men like Hank Aaron, George Brett and Wade Boggs.

    “It can be a very, very troubling experience,” says Derek Jeter in this inquiry into one of the most difficult feats in sports.

    “Fastball,” directed by Jonathan Hock, covers everything from the psychological warfare that Ryan calls a “lost art” to the neurobiological explanation for an oft-cited optical illusion produced by a ball thrown at the highest recorded speeds that seems to rise at it approaches the plate.

    With a serious fastball, the pitcher’s advantage over a batter — just a few hundred milliseconds — turns out to be a relative eternity in terms of the brain’s computing power. Nifty graphics explain the difference between a mere 92 mph, versus 100.

    It seems every power pitcher from Walter Johnson to Randy Johnson is featured here (though Roger Clemens is never mentioned).

    The players are clearly at ease — many of them seem to be literally at the Hall of Fame during their interviews. Further commentary is supplied by writer Joe Posnanski and a series of scientists from Pittsburgh who have penetrated the mystique of the fastball.

    The very best moments might be the candid interview with Gibson, and the vintage footage of his violent, whole-body delivery and the distinctive, leg-twirling follow-through immortalized in print by Roger Angell’s famous 1980 New Yorker profile.

    Here in “Fastball” Gibson is captivating as he recalls with plain seriousness how racism shaped his identity as an “ogre,” and how he benefited from the intimidation.

    “I don’t imagine I did anything to dispel any of that,” Gibson says.

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  • 'Fastball' Dials Up Heat on the Big Screen

    Washington Senators fireballer Walter "The Big Train" Johnson struck out 3,509 batters in a 21-year Major League career that spanned from 1907-27. He summed up his prowess on the pitchers' mound succinctly: "You can't hit what you can't see."

    The new documentary, "Fastball," which premiers Monday night at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, proves Johnson was more right than he ever could have imagined.

    As director Jonathan Hock explains, humans don't actually visually track an object in flight. They predict where it will be, and see it ahead of time. Average folks project about one-tenth of a second ahead. The very best hitters, though, can see the baseball two-tenths of a second ahead of where it actually is.

    "With the pitchers' mound 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate, it so happens that when a pitcher throws the ball the very fastest it can be thrown and a batter reacts the very fastest he can react, it's exactly when the ball gets to home plate," Hock said. "Sixty feet, 6 inches is such a strange distance, but they picked it exactly right. The game is in perfect balance, with the edge of human performance on the pitcher's end meeting the edge of human performance on the batter's end."

    Hock is an eight-time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer and editor. His most recent film, "Unguarded," about basketball player Chris Herren, was named Best Documentary of 2011 by Sports Illustrated.

    Hock was approached several years ago by Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull, producer of "42," to make a film about the fastball. Tull had two overriding goals.

    "First, he wanted to create the film every parent, kid, and baseball fan in the world will want to put in the DVD player every March for the next 50 years to get psyched for the baseball season, and fall in love all over again with the game," Hock explained. "And second, he wanted to put a stake in the ground and do the impossible -- to compare pitchers from different eras and figure out who threw the fastest ever."

    Hock interviewed 20 Hall of Famers for "Fastball," including notable masters Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson and Goose Gossage, along with current fastballers Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman and David Price. The legendary Steve Dalkowski, who never made the big leagues but allegedly threw 110 mph and was the inspiration for the Nuke LaLoosh character in "Bull Durham," is also featured in the film.

    "There are only a handful of guys on the whole planet who do this one thing well, and when you get them talking about it, you realize it must really be something to be given a gift and then be able to maximize that gift's potential," Hock said. "There's some code that has been unlocked for these guys, and they appreciate it and understand it in a way that the greatest writer in the world never could. They are just so articulate about what they do."

    On the flip side, "Fastball" also includes Hall of Fame hitters Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Mike Schmidt -- along with current stars Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper and Brandon Phillips -- discussing what it's like to face the hardest-throwing pitchers of all time.

    As Hock puts it, baseball, at its root, is a primal battle between a man with a rock and a man with a stick. Everything else we know about the game is produced from that spark, which also ignites our instinctual affinity for watching a power pitcher face off against a power hitter.

    Hock feels baseball fans will enjoy watching "Fastball" as much as he enjoyed creating it.

    "Baseball fans fall in love with the game over and over again, and while making this, I fell in love harder than ever," he said. "The magic of baseball, the drama and mythology of it, it's all there in the film."


    Lindsay Berra is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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  • Fastball: Documentary to be Released About the “Seminal Pitch”

    Courtesy of USA Today Imagesby Jessica Kleinschmidt

    It may take a director days, weeks, even months to figure out the perfect title for a film. However, this time it was rather easy.

    “Fastball.”

    Sounds boring doesn’t it? Well, it could be if you’re not a baseball nerd like myself.

    “Fastball,” according to CBS Sports, is a documentary “that aims to celebrate baseball’s seminal pitch.”

    There are many recognizable faces that will be interviewed in the making of the film. Hank Aaron, Goose Gossage, Derek Jeter and Justin Verlander are several of the baseball legends that will be discussing how a baseball can “boil down to the 396 milliseconds it take a 100 mph fastball to reach home plate.”

    For the baseball geeks out there, the film brings a lot more to the table than just metrics:

    “Fastball covers everything from the psychological warefare that Nolan Ryan calls a lost art to the neurobiological explanation for an oft-cited optical illusion produced by a ball thrown at the highest recorded speeds that seems to rise as it approaches the plate, says Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News.”

    It’s a little Big Bang Theory-esque, but that’s alright because the nerd gets the hot blonde.

    The Tribeca Film Festival displayed the movie that has an approximate run time of 120 minutes—shorter than any baseball game if you don’t include the Yankees and the Red Sox.

    The combination of famous baseball faces and the science behind America’s Favorite Pastime will draw you in. Plus, it lets us reconnect to the baseball nerd in all of us, and that nerd needs to be loved.

    Photo: USA Today Sports


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  • FASTBALL | TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

    TIME & DATE
    LOCATION
    BUY TICKETS
    6:00 PM - MON 4/20
    PASSED
    3:30 PM - FRI 4/24
    PASSED
    2:30 PM - SAT 4/25
    PASSED
    12:30 PM - SUN 4/26
    PASSED
    Baseball has fascinated us as a game obsessed with speed, statistics, and of course, a bit of myth and magic. The fastball has become part of that obsession as an element of human performance that both eludes and captivates players and fans alike.

    Thrown at speeds topping 100 miles an hour, the fastball moves too fast for human cognition, making it impossible for the batter to make a physical judgment on when to swing. Fastball looks at how the highest levels of achievement in baseball transcend skill, and move into the realm of intuition. The film takes us on an incredible journey into the science of the fastball, its relationship with some of the most famous players in the game, and recalls some of the most thrilling moments in baseball history.

    Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Derek Jeter, and a cast of 20 Hall of Famers discuss how the magic of baseball boils down to the 396 milliseconds it takes a 100 mph fastball to reach home plate.

    —Deborah Rudolph

    This feature is preceded by a short film from Marvel Entertainment and ESPN Films' 1 of 1: Origins series, Colin Kaepernick: If you know football, you know one of its biggest stars, QB Colin Kaepernick. Yet, it was on the baseball diamond that a young Colin would be forever changed. At 12, he was already a stand-out athlete, head and shoulders over his peers in both size and skill. But on one fateful day, the hits were not coming, his fielding was off and his attitude was bad. His father would see this opportunity as a moment to help redirect Colin’s life and forever alter his destiny.
    FILM INFORMATION
    Year: 2015
    Length: 87 minutes
    Language: English
    Country: USA
    Premiere: World
    CAST & CREDITS
    Director: Jonathan Hock
    Screenwriter: Jonathan Hock
    Producer: Thomas Tull, Philip Aromando, Mike Tollin
    Editor: Peter Panagoulias, Steven Pilgrim
    Cinematographer: Alastair Christopher
    Executive Producer: Thomas Tull, Jack Selby
    Composer: Tony Morales
    Cast: Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Aroldis Chapman, Steve Dalkowski, Derek Jeter
    CONTACTS

    Print Source
    Philip Aromando
    Hock Films
    New York, 10011
    Phone: 212 337 3292
    phila@hockfilms.com

    International Sales Contact
    Philip Aromando
    Hock Films
    New York, 10011
    Phone: 212 337 3292
    phila@hockfilms.com

    Press Contact
    Steven Beeman
    Falco Ink
    New York, 10019
    Phone: 212 445 7100
    stevenmbeeman@falcoink.com

    US Sales Contact
    John Sloss
    Cinetic
    New York City, 10001
    Phone: 212 204 7979
    info@cineticmedia.com

    ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

    Jonathan Hock is a nine-time Emmy Award-winning producer, director, writer, and editor. He has premiered multiple documentaries at TFF, including Through the Fire and Off the Rez. Hock has directed multiple award-winning documentaries for ESPN's 30 for 30 series.

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