Review

'Fastball' catches poetry in motion chasing the game's speediest pitches

You don't have to be a baseball fanatic or for that matter a historian or a physicist to appreciate "Fastball," a fittingly zippy tribute to the art of the pitch, narrated by Kevin Costner, setting out to finally determine whose throw was truly the fastest.

Given that it takes all of 396 milliseconds for a pitcher's fastball to reach home plate — and the radar gun wasn't officially used to clock speeds on the field until 1974 — declaring an all-time winner can be tricky.

Assembling a panel of the game's living greats, including Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, George Brett, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Bob Gibson and Derek Jeter, director Jonathan Hock eventually arrives at a consensus, placing the late Walter Johnson and Bob Feller as well as 69-year-old Nolan Ryan as the three most likely candidates.

But with their respective best years spanning more than six decades, it takes some work to establish a level playing field, with Hock also calling on physics professors and neurologists to assess the effects on a batter facing a ball traveling more than 90 mph.

Along the way there are some terrific vintage clips, including a sequence in which Cleveland Indian Feller tested his fastball against a speeding Harley-Davidson and rare amateur film footage of Sandy Koufax pitching his perfect game at Dodger Stadium in 1965.

Poetry in motion.

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"Fastball."

No rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino. Also on VOD.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 25, 2016, in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Catching poetry in speedy motion - `FASTBALL'" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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