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.