‘Fastball’ documents baseball's most exciting pitch
“‘Fastball’ is the film that you’re going to want to watch every spring, starting now, for the rest of your life to remind yourself how beautiful and magical the game of baseball is and why we love this game so much,” said “Fastball’s” writer and director, Jonathan Hock, during a recent telephone interview. “By delving as deep as we could into the 396 milliseconds that it takes a fastball to reach home plate, we rediscover the drama in the entire game.
What I learned is that the fear on the part of the hitters is very real and very tangible when they are facing a real fireballer. I didn’t really imagine that that was the case, but it really is."
“What’s exciting about the theatrical release is that there’s something really extraordinary about watching this footage on the big screen and hearing the sounds on the big screen. We are able to use this cutting edge digital video equipment, which captured these extraordinary images,” Hock said. “And it’s rare for documentaries to get a theatrical release, so I’m really excited about this.
“What I learned is that the fear on the part of the hitters is very real and very tangible when they are facing a real fireballer. I didn’t really imagine that that was the case, but it really is. It’s very present in their minds that this is an extremely dangerous situation for them.”
“Fastball” is based on the original idea of Thomas Tull, the head of Legendary Pictures, a board member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and one of the film’s producers.
“Thomas Tull called me and I went out to meet him in Los Angeles and we just started talking about baseball and it took just a couple of minutes to realize that we really had a very powerful connection over the game. So I knew this was a guy I wanted to make a film with about baseball,” Hock said. “And what he said was he felt this was a golden age of the fastball and what’s really exciting for him is the comparing of eras. He said we’ll get professors from Carnegie Mellon and we’re going to figure it out and say who threw the fastest of all time.
“Fastball,” honored with the Opening Night slot at the 10th Annual Baseball Film Festival held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 2015, features more than 20 individuals with bronze plaques in Cooperstown.
“The experience I had speaking to Hank Aaron for an hour-and-a-half about the fastball and speaking to Nolan Ryan for two hours about the fastball, these guys are extraordinary. And when they speak about the game, it’s like going to the mountaintop to get the truth,” Hock said. “Probably one of my favorite moments in the whole production was getting five amazing Hall of Famers – Brett, Morgan, Bench, Kaline and Gwynn – in the Plaque Gallery. It’s like the high priests sitting in the holiest of holy places talking about God. It was kind of awesome.
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum