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.
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.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino. Also on VOD.