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 the fascinating new documentary 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 up-and-coming 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 current speed gun king 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 Chapman and Craig Kimbrel; 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.
JonathanHock 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 "TheLost Son of Havana" (2009) and "Off the Rez" (2011) alsopremiered there. Hock has directed four documentaries for ESPN's Emmy andPeabody Award winning "30 For 30" series, including"Unguarded," which was named Best Documentary of the year by SportsIllustrated; "The Best That Never Was" (2010); "Survive andAdvance" (2013) and "Of Miracles and Men" (2015). Hock's seriesof documentary shorts, "The Finish Line: Steve Nash," was a finalistfor a National Magazine Award.
A lifelong baseball lover, Oscar-winning actor andfilmmaker Kevin Costner is known as one of the game’s most respected fans. His performances in the classicbaseball-themed movies “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” in the 1980s, aswell as “For the Love of the Game” in the 1990s (where he plays a pitcher inthe midst of throwing a perfect game), link him to the game’s culturalhistory. He often serves as a narratoror host for events related to Major League Baseball, such as the star-studdedcelebration honoring the game’s legends before the 1990 All-Star Game.
Thomas Tull serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Legendary Entertainment a leading media company with film, television, and digital and publishing divisions. Through his Tull Media Ventures, Tull also invests in technologies that enhance the entertainment experience such as Magic Leap and Oculus Rift. Tull serves on the Board of Directors of Hamilton College, his alma mater, and Carnegie Mellon University. He also sits on the boards of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Diego Zoo, and is part of the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers ownership group where he also holds a board seat. In aggregate, Legendary’s associated productions have realized grosses of more than $10 billion worldwide. Recently Legendary released As Above/So Below, Godzilla, 300: Rise of an Empire, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and the Jackie Robinson biopic 42. Upcoming releases include the Gothic Horror film Crimson Peak, the thriller and Warcraft, based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning universe. Legendary is also producing an original comedy series for Netflix called “Love.” Legendary is also an investor in the recently launched venture, The Players Tribune.
Philip Aromando is an Emmy Award winning producer. He has worked with FASTBALL director Jonathan Hock since 1998 and has produced or co-produced all of Hock's documentary features over the last decade. These include three films that had their world premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival: "Through the Fire" (2005), "The Lost Son of Havana" (2009) and "Off the Rez" (2011); and four films for ESPN's Emmy and Peabody Award winning "30 for 30" series: "The Best that Never Was" (2010), "Unguarded" (2011), "Survive and Advance (2013) and "Of Miracles and Men" (2015).
Mike Tollin has produced and directed more than a dozen feature films, several award-winning documentaries, and hundreds of hours of television. His films include Wild Hogs, Coach Carter, Varsity Blues, Radio, Dreamer, Hardball, Summer Catch, and Big Fat Liar, along with the Tollin-directed documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream, which won a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Academy Award. Tollin directed and produced several other award-winning documentaries, including Hardwood Dreams, Let Me Be Brave, and Who Killed The USFL, one of the original films for the “30 For 30” series, for which he was a consulting producer. In television, Tollin has produced several long-running series including Smallville, Arli$$, One Tree Hill, All That, Kenan & Kel, and What I Like About You.
Tollin is a founding board member of Children Now, Common Sense Media, and the Chasing The Dream foundation. He is also the Founder of PACE, a philanthropic group that identifies and devotes resources to kids-based charities.
MajorLeague Baseball (MLB) is the oldest professional sports league in the UnitedStates and consists of 30 member clubs in the U.S. and Canada, representing thehighest level of professional baseball. Major League Baseball is thebest-attended sport in North America, and the last decade includes all 10 ofthe best-attended individual seasons by fans in MLB history, with each regularseason eclipsing the 73 million mark. Now led by CommissionerRobert D. Manfred, Jr., MLB currently features record levels of labor peace,competitive balance and industry revenues, as well as the most comprehensivedrug-testing program in American professional sports. MLB remainscommitted to making an impact in the communities of the U.S., Canada andthroughout the world, perpetuating the sport’s larger role in society andpermeating every facet of baseball’s business, marketing and communityrelations endeavors. With the continued success of MLB Advanced Media andMLB Network, MLB continues to find innovative ways for its fans to enjoyAmerica’s National Pastime and a truly global game. For more information onMajor League Baseball, visit www.mlb.com.