Fastball (2016) Script

I started playing the game at a young age.

And fell in love with it and...

You know, Nolan Ryan was my idol growing up.

So obviously I wanted to be a power pitcher.

You know, I go to college and I grow into myself and I hit a 100 for the first time my junior year.

You know, I guess that's kinda when I started thinking, you know, how would I compare to these guys back in the day?

They didn't really have radar guns.

You know, i remember Bob feller throwing against a motorcycle.

Um, you know, you've got Walter Johnson, Sandy koufax...

You know, you always just wanna know how you'd stack up against the greats of a different era.

If I can get in a time machine and just step into the past, you know that would be the best way to compare yourself to those guys.

To stand next to them and throw with them.

This gentleman in blue claims that he can clock anything on wheels.

Well, a baseball doesn't travel on wheels, officer.

But if you want a race, it's your motorcycle.

I guess we're all set.

Here's the test which shows which is the faster.

The racing motorcycle, or the pitched ball.

Coming down the highway at a speed of 86 miles per hour, the policeman crosses the pitching line and there they go...

Bingo, and look, Bob feller gives him a head start of 10 feet before he throws the ball.

Watch the ball now. Bob's pitch is gaining all the way.

It breaks the target right through the bull's-eye a few feet in front of the motorcycle.

Well, where are you, mister policeman?

Oh, there you are.

I don't know what your speedometer reads now, but that ball was traveling better than 100 miles an hour, and that's plenty fast.

Baseball m the 21st century.

It is a game of specialists.

A game molded by technology driven by data, and statistics.

It's a game managers try to win by predicting what can only be guessed at, by controlling what can only be hoped for.

For every time the umpire says, "play ball," it is still a game of infinite possibility.

And at its core, an ancient contest between two people alone on a field.

A primal battle between a man with a stick...

And a man with a rock.

I don't think there's more excitement anywhere than a power pitcher out on the mound and then you've got a power hitter up there.

Something's gonna give.

You're getting it all here.

The kid against the veteran.

The fastballer against the fastball hitter.

There they go.

Struck him out!

Ballgame is over!

Who was the hardest throwing pitcher I ever faced?

The fastest fastball...

The nastiest I ever faced was the hardest thrower who ever threw a baseball.

The fastest I ever saw was...

He was the hardest thrower that I ever saw...

He had one of those special arms.

He threw it harder than any man i ever saw in my life.

There is this powerful desire for every baseball fan to know, okay, what... Who threw the fastest pitch?

It's one of the great mysteries of baseball.

He struck him out swinging.

You just can't change the game.

You know, no matter how much time goes by, everything in essence remains the same.

He knows I'm throwing a fastball.

I know I'm throwing a fastball.

This is it. Let's see what happens.

Just don't get scared when you look at the miles per hour and it says "98" up there.

You'd be like, "oh, man." Some pecple get scared. They start shaking.

You can tell. They don't want to hold a bat.

You can see it in some of the batters' eyes, you can tell.

If you got anywhere close to plate, and you threw that hard...

High and tight...

There was a lot of fear involved.

Oh, you can definitely hear a fastball.

You can hear it whizzing by you.

It sounds like trouble, is what it sounds like.

But if you're facing someone with some control problems...

It can be a very, very troubling experience.

Even the best batters, i kinda feel bad for them.

You know, they're in a situation that is really pushing the limits of what a brain can do.

People go, "what, were you scared?"

No, you can't have fear when you walk to the plate.

Because that... That defeats you.

As predator-prey.

And that's why I never look at the pitcher's eyes.

He's the predator, and you're the prey.

If you look into his eyes.

They wouldn't look at me.

Most hitters would not look at me.

And I looked at them I'd follow them up, you know and I'd look at them and I'd size them up.

And they just look away.

They... you know, they didn't want any part of me.

You know, I had a license to kill out there on the mound.


He thought he was hit.

Holy cow.

People would meet me, even players, and they said, "man, you're not at all like you are on the mound, are you?"

I said, "no, I... you know, I couldn't possibly carry that persona around with me every...

I'd be thrown in jail."

Goose gossage.

I would have to say he has the nastiest...

He had the nastiest... All of it.

He had the windup and everything.

And he was very scary. He was big.

Threw hard.

Very mean.

I would say he was probably the nastiest I ever faced.

The arm is everywhere, head could be violently shaking as he threw it.

And you just hope he had home plate zeroed in there.

Threw the fastball in on the hands and got him...

It was one of my biggest tools that I had out there was the intimidation factor.

There were times that I would look at a hitter in the box and I would just look at him and go, "man, I would not want to be this guy right now."

Roy ls gone.

It's the law of the jungle, you either eat or you get eaten.

And I was not gonna get eaten.

Gossage ls throwing bullets.

He is throwing hard.

Struck him out.

You are either the hero or the goat, being a relief pitcher.

Closer is the word they use today.

"Closer" wasn't even a coined phrase, we were "relief pitchers."

Live from Fenway park, the second playoff game ever in the American league.

My goodness, if there isn't something about a moment like this that arouses the competitive juices in a man, you've got no business being involved in sports.

The 191s playoff game was the biggest game that I ever played in.

I remember going to bed the night before the game thinking that I'll probably be facing yaz for the final out.

And you know, you're gonna get some heat right here.

And Mr. "goose" gossage coming on.

I have never been so nervous in a game in my life.

I remember coming out of the bullpen and it was hard for me to put one foot in front of the other.

I was shaking so hard.

So the big youngster from Colorado comes on in relief.

I came into the game in the seventh inning.

With one out a couple of runners on, I believe.

And I got out of that jam and then the ninth came around and who comes to the plate?

The batter ls Carl yastrzemski.

This ballgame going right down to the wire.

(Two guys on, twc) Outs in the ninth, in Fenway.

And yaz is coming up to the plate.

Well, I had a moment to think about...

You know, because yaz was getting a standing ovation.

For about... Seemed like five minutes.

And I had a conversation with myself.

I said, "gosh, why are you so nervous?

What's the worst thing that can happen?"

I said, "I'll be back in Colorado tomorrow, elk hunting."

It's just a game.

It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.

It was the first time all day that I had relaxed.

And I knew because when yaz stepped in the box, the first pitch i threw him was the hardest pitch i had thrown all day.

Popped up, that might be it.

Nettles over at third base.

He'll squeeze it and it's over.

And look at those Yankees.

And I remember in all the chaos in the clubhouse, I went in the training room to get away from, kin da everybody, and just gather my thoughts a little bit and thurman followed me in the there, munson.

And he goes, "that had another foot on anything else you've thrown all day."

I said, "i relaxed."

He said, "what the hell took you so damn long?"

Where's he at?

Right down in the middle.

There he is right there, rich gossage.

That guy could throw.

Tony, you faced him. Yeah.

If you're a right-handed hitter, you had no chance.

Wasn't that the pine tar deal?

He was the pine tar guy.

All right, here's the challenge, Brett with the bat, and gossage with the ball.

You know, i was generating some kind of power with that fastball and George, was swinging the bat as hard as he could swing it.

And wow.



That's gone.

And then when he finally hit 'em, they threw the bat away and called you out.

That was the worst part of all.

Well, what they're talking about is that he's got too much pine tar.

George Brett looking around, wanting to know what's going on.

There's pine tar all over this bat.

Tim mcclelland, the home plate umpire lays it across home plate, which is 18 inches wide.

They might be gonna call George Brett out.

Well, the Yankees win. He is out.

Yes, sir. Brett is out.

Look at this. Brett is out.

And he is steaming mad.

That was maddest human being I've ever seen anywhere in my life.

We're walking off the field.

And we're all laughing.

I loved being a power pitcher.

If I could change one thing in my career, iwouldn't change a single thing.

You know, I said, even the home runs I gave up were great.

My name's Clifford blankenship.

I'm a big league catcher by trade.

For the Washington senators.

I was a backup, batting .219, until I broke my finger.

Now I'm in weiser, Idaho, on a wild-goose chase.

Here to look over some palooka who was burning up the snake river valley semi-pro league.

Someone sent the senators a telegram, said there was a kid, Johnson, threw so fast you couldn't see 'em.

And that he knew where he was throwing it too, 'cause if he didn't, there'd be dead bodies buried at home plates all over Idaho.

I get to the field just in time to see him shamble out to the mound.

All arms and legs.

Eyes down like he don't even wanna be there.

Then... holy smoke.

19 years old and no one in big league ball ever had a fast one like this.

So I offer the kid $500 to join the senators.

You know what that hayseed says?

If I promise him train fare home in case he don't make it, he'll come.

I say, "kid...

A one way ticket's all you're gonna need."

When the greatest hitter of the time, Ty Cobb, first faced Walter Johnson, he said that the ball traveled so fast that it hissed like a train as it went by.

The legend of "the big train" was born.

[Posnanskh i think Walter Johnson very specifically changed the game, in that he made the fastball something large.

Something larger than life.

Especially in that era, of course that's dead ball, nobody's really hitting home runs.

The way that the game is played is Ty Cobb slashing through, and stealing bases and it was a very rough game.

And here was this little bit of magic.

This one guy who was a very modest individual, but he had this just amazing fastball.

And they'd come from all around to see him throw.

And it was exciting to people in away that I don't think anything really had been before.

If you have an exceptionally good curve...

Better curve ball than a fast one, or when you get out there and a base hit might hurt you, in a ball game when a good batter up or something like that, well then you want to throw him a curve if you have a real good curve.

If you have a better fast one, than you have a curve, if you have a real good fastball and not a very good curve, why I'd throw him the fastball.

[Posnanskh now people are starting to say, "well, how fast is lt?"

And as time goes on, that becomes a really important part of the game.

The earliest known measurements of pitching speed were actually made back in 1912.

Who knows how to do that right is the military, because they have a century of measuring things like musket balls.

So the first measurements were made at the Remington armory on their ballistics range.

At the age of 24, dressed in his church clothes, Walter Johnson walked into the Remington rifle range and became the first pitcher to ever have his fastball measured scientifically.

So Walter Johnson walks into a large room.

He sees a 2-foot by 2-foot wooden frame.

And within that wooden frame are a series of thin copper wires.

15 feet further down there's a plate on a stand so Walter Johnson's job is to pitch the ball so it passes through the copper wires which break a wire, sends a signal to the clock.

And starts the timing.

The ball then hits the plate 15 feet further back.

That gives us a start time and a stop time.

We know the distance is 15 feet.

So one can compute the speed of the baseball.

They do the throw, they make the measurement and it comes up with a very famous, 122 feet per second.

Johnson's speed was met with astonishment.

And from that point forward, the big train was crowned the fastest pitcher of all time.

[Posnanskh nobody had ever seen anything like him.

And the game had this new kind of hero.

This new kind of mythology.

That they could build and he...

I think he's the one that really started it.

122 feet per second was a magic number in aworld where human beings weren't yet measured in miles per hour.

A century later we'd represent that measurement like this...

That comes out to be

83.2 miles per hour.

The fastball is probably the easiest thing to see because we have a radar gun.

But it's probably the hardest thing to scout.

You know, you're looking at what the number says now and you're trying to figure out what the number's gonna say in the future.

And these guys that you'll see sitting behind home plate, that's what they're so good at.

It could be a high school guy throwing 86.

But you see a fluid arm.

You see looseness.

And you know that there's gonna be more there in the future.

Every scout ls on the hunt for the fastball.

With that elusive quality they call, "electricity."

I don't know if you see "electricity."

I think it's something that you feel.

Those are the guys, the hitters all know, the dugout lights up, everything stops.

Everybody makes sure they're looking to see that guy.

It almost looks like they're throwing a different ball than everybody else.

Hannellh electric stuff explodes at the plate.

When the guys are warming up in the bullpen it sounds like a shotgun was just fired.

When they... when it hits the catcher's mitt.

You know it before the game.

Now you start getting excited.

We're all searching for that guy with the big power fastball that could walk out and say, "it's game over."

And basically do it with one pitch.

That's what we're all chasing after.

That's what we're spending eight nights in a row out searching.

Watching one game, driving five hours, waking up the next day driving five hours. We'll find...

We're looking for that guy.

That premium, elite, electric fastball's a holy grail.

M the early years of the 21 st century, Cuba was the only place on earth off limits to American baseball scouts.

But it was from a town in eastern Cuba just about the size of weiser, Idaho, that word began to spread of a kid named aroldis Chapman.

Who might some day lay claim to the title held by Walter Johnson

100 years earlier.

The fastest to ever throw a ball.

There's a certain amount of myth around him.

The hardest thrower, you know, on the planet.

When he showed up, i remember the first game, we were bringing him in, and he came in throwing...

It was just hard to fathom, it was 102, 103, 104 mile an hour fastball.

I'd never seen that.

That was the “wow” moment.

No chance.

Ballgame! Ph ew!

Sometimes you go up there and take one pitch, you can hear the ball go past you.

Oh yeah, you can hear that... Boom!

"Gosh, I gotta get the heck out there.

I ain't ready for this."

That's good 0l.' Country hardball right there.

See ya later.

The number one thing going through my head is, I don't wanna die, you know what I mean?

Him throwing a pitch that hard and you know, sometimes he gets a little wild.

Put it m, aroldis Chapman!

The forward roll!

Just three weeks after comme-to the major leagues, Chapman wrote a number on the radar gun that had never been seen before.

When he hit 105, I looked at that and I said, at this moment, I think I've seen something I'll never see again.

And if I do see it again, it'll only be from this pitcher here.

Swing and a miss!

We had a great hall of famer just pass away, Bob feller.

I mean... and they talked about him...

They timed it with a motorcycle.

Or he says that at 104.

I mean, I mean, did you know people that talked about him?

Oh yeah, i played with guys that faced feller when he was in his prime.

And said he was unhittable.

Yeah. Yeah.

Ted Williams always said he was the toughest pitcher he ever seen.

Well, that's enough right there.

Yes, that's exactly what he said.

This husky teenager is Robert William Andrew feller of Van meter, Iowa.

That fastball was famous all over the state when he was a schoolboy.

He struck out 23 in a sandlot game at the age of 16.

And at 17 he was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1936.

In his first major league start, he struck out 15 St. Louis browns, and two years later set a record by striking out 18 Detroit tigers.

[Posnanskh Bob feller, when he comes m as a 17 year old, in the 1930s, he's just a high school kid coming out and just... and just throwing these incredible fastballs that are frightening major leaguers.

In every one of feller's first seven full seasons, he led the American league in strikeouts.

And caused people to reconsider the very limit of what a human arm could do.

[Posnanskh he's a unique character m this story.

Bob feller was the first guy to really try to find out how fast the fastball went.

People, you know, had a reference point already and so the question was, faster than Walter Johnson, that was... That was the point.

And he does all of these different things.

He races a motorcycle with a fastball.

He tries to throw it through some army contraption.

Bob feller, pitcher for the Cleveland Indians takes time off in the nation's capital to demonstrate his cannonball delivery.

In 1946, Bob feller's speed was measured in an experiment done on a baseball diamond, by bringing in a fairly modern device, that used light beams as a start timer and the stop timer.

It is recorded by the army ordinance department lumiline chronograph.

He threw from the pitcher's mound, through the opening in this box at home plate.

And the device measured his speed at this point with a speed of 98.6...

Miles per hour.

While Walter Johnson has traditionally been considered the fastest pitcher who ever lived, bullet Bob left a scientifically timed record for future generations to shoot at.

98 and 6/10 miles per hour.

Feller pitched in the 19308 and the 19408.

I mean, Bob feller started, basically when Jesse Owens won gold medals in Germany.

And at the time there was no question that Jesse Owens was a quantum leap forward in track.

They looked at Jesse Owens and said, you're not gonna get any faster, any stronger, you're not gonna jump any further, this is the limit of what human beings can do.

And of course it wasn't.

The times that Jesse Owens ran in 1936 are high school times now.

And that's the way it is across the board.

Every record has been smashed.

So if you brought that along in baseball, if you looked at it that way, and Bob feller was throwing 98.6, if you brought that timing with us for 70 years, people would be throwing 120 miles an hour.

How come nobody has been able to find a new way to throw a fastball that's 20 miles an hour faster than anybody else?

It doesn't exist.

Baseball starts an d stops with the starting pitcher.

I love my fastball.

I love it.

Lot of 95s, 96s.

Some 97s.

For the most part, I'll probably sit around 94, 95.

If I need a big pitch, more often times than not, I'm gonna throw a fastball.

There's no better feeling than throwing a fastball by somebody.

Especially for strike three.

You know what the fastest pitch you ever threw in the major leagues is?

I think it was in 2010 in Detroit.

I faced jhonny peralta.

It was in the fifth inning.

I was over 100 pitches so I knew this was gonna be my last inning.

And the 0-2.

Swing and a miss.

He just threw it right by him at 100 miles an hour.

I definitely looked up there and it said 100.

Aw, I mean, I never envisioned myself throwing 100 mile an hour.

I mean, that's...

That's crazy. And everybody was like, "aw, you know, that gun's juiced." Guys razzed me a little bit but...

No, if that radar gun reads a hundo, that's... That's what I threw.

Gibson th rew hard, but he threw the hardest low fastball of anybody I'd ever seen.

You know, koufax and those guys you know, are up here, around there.

But Gibson could get it down here, I guarantee you it's still around 100 when he got it right around in the knees.

I couldn't believe it, that's when i first got to the big leagues.

I'd never seen that before, you know?

I mean, never. And then I swung at it, I couldn't handle it.

Joe, let me ask you a question, were you ever fearful that he'd hit you? No no no.

Didn't he have the reputation of just hitting people? - Oh, heck yeah.

But he was never wll_n.

It was one of those things if you hit a home run off of him...

Well, he walked up, he would walk up to the cage before the game, and say, "I'm gonna get you today." Yeah.

He told hitters "I'm gonna get you today, and he hit 'em.

I hear all of these wild stories about the way people saw me.

And that the things that I did...

I heard that i threw at people.

“Yeah, you're always throwing at people.” no, the people i threw at, I hit.

I'd never threw at a guy and not hit him.

If you're actually trying to hit a guy, I would say that you would probably aim at his ribs.

He can move his head, he can move his legs, but the middle part of his body is very difficult to move.

That was Bob Gibson.

He believe in having part of the plate and you had to give it to him.

You know, I mean, and he threw very hard.

I always thought about it.

It always was in the back of my mind that one day he's gonna turn loose one and come upside my head with it.

You know, I felt...

Bob Gibson told me one of the greatest quotes that I've ever heard.

He said, "half of that plate's mine."

And he said, "now you gotta figure out which half I'm coming after."

He was just a great competitor.

His whole disposition, you know that he wanted it more than the hitter wanted to hit him.

And he got tougher he could reach back inside and get a little bit more when he needed to.

I hit a squibber.

The cue shot it up the middle for an rbi single, and the next at bat, he drove me in the arm.

Boom. Right there.

I still have a mark.

He tells me now, because I've said it a lot of times on the air, you hear about...

He says, "i didn't hit nearly as many guys as you guys think. Look it up."

Gibson would look in like this. Yeah.

He couldn't see though. He couldn't see. And that's what...

All of a sudden the catcher's putting a sign down in the shadows, he couldn't see. And Bobby going like that.

And the hitters the next day say, "why in the hell are you looking at me like that?"

And Bob said, "man, maybe I'll just do it every time.

Whether I can see or not."

Since the day i turned 19 years 0l_l:>, I haven't had really good eyesight.

And I wore glasses.

Never on the field. But I wore glasses.

And I would look in...

And try to see the sign.

So the intimidating factor, um, I think it's the way I look. Period.

I think one of the reasons that they viewed me as this ogre, is because I was a black kid.

White kids did the same thing and nobody even thought about it.

But I did it and... "Ooh, we're around this guy..."

You know, "this monster."

And that wasn't gonna hold me back.

And I don't imagine I did anything to dispel any of that, you know.

But I don't know where that image came from.

I guess it was because I was who I was.

You're not an angry guy, you're not a...

I'm not angry now, i was then.

We never got any runs.

Well, anger came from racism.

Of course it did.

But racism was a way of life that...

It was stuff that I had to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

I didn't every once and a while go somewhere and then all of a sudden there it was.

No. It was there and it followed me all the way through my childhood.

And not just through the childhood, through the first part of my major league career.

It was there.

That fueled a lot of the anger that I suppose i projected.

I don't know.

I'd have to be on the outside looking in.

All I knew was the way I felt.

And I felt that I had to be better in order to get just as far and I was determined to do that.

M 196s, Bob Gibson delivered what by many measures was the greatest season any pitcher ever had in major league baseball.

M 196a, I was m a zone that entire year.

At the age of 32 i was probably as bright as I ever was gonna be.

I was strong as I ever was.

I had complete control over the game.

I felt like I could throw the ball anywhere I wanted to throw it.

That's the zone that I was in.

And I was in the zone for a complete year.

Which is kinda unusual.

You might be that way for a game or two, but not for a full year.

Hoot wow 22 games.

Including a record 13 complete game shutouts.

His earned run average became one of baseball fans' magic numbers.

Like Hank Aaron's 755 home runs.

Or DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak.


A staggering 35% lower than the next best figure ever recorded in the live ball era.

You know, you talk about angry, that look...

I lost nine games that year.

Because if it wasn't a one to nothing game, I didn't win.

And I would sit by myself on the bench and nobody would come near me because I was pissed off.

You know, just get me a run.

And my roommate, curt flood, we'd get one run, and he'd say, "okay, roomie, we got it, hold 'em."

He thought that was funny but that was not funny at all.

M game one 0f the 196s world series, hoot capped it off with the most dominating performance in series history.

A 1-2 pitch to cash.

Struck him out on a blazing fastball.

A 2-2 pitch to mcauliffe.

Struck him out.

Got him!

Struck him out!

The 11th strike out.

He struck him out swinging.

Once again a standing ovation.

A new world series record.

Certainly, you know, 17 strikeouts was...

I guess it's still a record.

In the world series.

And he can end it all now with the most dramatic of flourishes.

He got it, struck him out!

Look at the scene on the field. Mccarver's the first one.

A new world record of 17 strikeouts in one game.

Doing what you no, and knowing that you're good at it.

That's the great feeling.

Not just playing ball, but I knew that I was good at it.

And I could do pretty much what I wanted to at a certain point in my career.

And that's a wonderful feeling.

Nobody's gonna give me anything.

I need to work for it.

The fans here in Atlanta treat the last three outs of the game unbelievably.

To say i don't hear them, I'd be lying, 'cause I do.

It pumps me up, makes me excited.

When the fans are behind you, your body takes over.

It's hard to explain.

But seems like it happens every time.

You have complete trust in yourself that if I throw this pitch, I'm gonna get the guy out.

You need to believe that you're gonna throw a pitch for a strike or maybe throw it by a guy.

That's just the way of thinking that you have to have.

There's no way i can't strike this guy out.

They played their hearts out for nine innings for us to win.

And for me to come in and blow a save and lose the game because of that, you know, in my mind, that's unacceptable.

Got mm!

Swing and a miss, it's all over.

No one wants to hit off Craig.

No one's gonna say, "man, give me a bat, I wanna go up there and hit off of this guy."

So when the ninth inning comes around, you hope your spot's not up.

You know, he has that little stare that he does when he's getting ready to pitch.

Definitely has a really hard fastball.

It comes at you, it can pound the strike zone.

Nine times out of ten, it's a fastball.

He is the best closer in the game by far.

Comes in and closes the door.

Washington, soon night.

He wants to shove it down your throat every single night he faces you.

His fastball is electric.

M l-lls first four seasons as a closer, Craig kimbrel led the league in saves every year.

A feat unequalled in baseball history.

But even at 99 miles an hour, no pitcher in baseball has a smaller margin for error than the closer.

You never know what's gonna happen.

It could change in one pitch.

4-4 game.

Two outs here, in the bottom of the ninth inning.

And now lt'll be choo.

The thing in baseball is being a reliever, they say, "have a short memory."

But how iapproach it is you wanna have a short memory, but you don't wanna forget.

Two and one to choo.

In the air, left center.

Oh, choo to win it.

What an unbelievable finish.

I threw him a fastball middle-away, shin-soc choo hit it out of the ballpark.

I tip my cap to him, and I just had to move on for your next outing, and the outing after that.

What's the difference between a 92-mile an hour fastball and a 100-mile an hour fastball?

Home runs.

Probably about 92...

Probably about that much.

And that much can make so much of a difference.

You bet.

If the two pitches were thrown together, when the 100 mile an hour pitch reaches home plate, the 92 mile an hour pitch would still have four and a half feet left to travel.

When you throw a 92, you can read the major league logo on the ball, you can see the seams, you can see all that.

But when a guy throwing a 100...

It look like a golf ball.

Good luck.

It's kind 0f funny to say it, but it's night and day.

92 and 100.

You feel as though you have a lot longer to hit, when actually, you don't.

The difference between say a 90-mile an hour ball takes about 450 milliseconds to get to plate, and a 100 mile an hour ball takes 396 milliseconds.

That 50 some odd milliseconds is crucial brain time.

50 milliseconds is an eternity in this kind of a process.

If you as a rough estimate assume that every synaptic connection takes about two milliseconds, an extra 50 milliseconds or so gives you about 25 times the number of computations.

So you get about 25 times the information.

Just because you have that extra 50 milliseconds.

But at 100 miles an hour, you're given almost no time to make a decision.

And it's getting close to that range, of where its physiologically impossible to actually plan the voluntary action based off the information of the ball.

When the pitcher's mound was set at precisely 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate, the game of baseball was set in perfect balance.

A showdown between the fastest it's humanly possible to throw a ball.

And the fastest it's humanly possible to react to it.

You're not gonna have that many moments in your life where you're going to see the edge of human performance, meeting the edge of human performance.

And so when they actually do meet, it's a beautiful thing.

The pitcher is pushing the limits of how fast a ball can go.

And that limit is coming close to the limit of how fast a hitter can make a decision.

And so you have these two extremes of human performance doing this kind of dance right at the edge of where their biology is constraining them.

We have these very basic events that are some on.

Throwing a rock and hitting it with a stick.

And it's only when we realize how hard these things are, how precisely balanced batters and pitchers are, that we really come to appreciate the beauty in this and the marvelous way that the game is set up to make this balance fair.

The pitcher wmns up, as the pitcher's arm swings around, the hitter's brain can make a little prediction as to roughly the trajectory of the ball before it's even left the pitcher's hand.

And then the pitch is released.

A 100-mile an hour fastball reaches the plate in 396 milliseconds.

Faster than the blink of an eye.

Any time that you blink, it's by you.

That's how hard the fastball is coming to you if it's 100 miles an hour.

If you blink...

By you.

Unlike any other sport, the game comes down to what a person can do in less time that it takes to say the word, "fastball."

Imagine we start a clock as the pitcher releases the ball.

That starts this propagation of computations that happen in the brain.

That trying to localize where the ball is in space and where it's going.

It tries to predict the ball's trajectory.

The ball is moving too fast for you to even track it with your eyes moment to moment.

Your eye is rushing ahead, to the point where you expect to see the ball.

You don't know exactly where it's gonna be, but you're making your best guess.

And you have a couple hundred milliseconds at best to pick the next position where you're gonna put your eyes.

So right at midway ycu get one glance at the ball.

That's your decision point.

You better be planning your swing now if you're gonna hope to hit the ball if you're used to seeing a ball moving at a certain speed, let's say 90 miles an hour is your average experience of seeing balls.

That prediction is gonna put you where the ball would be if it's traveling at that assumed speed.

You move your eyes to right where the position of the ball should be for 90-mile an hour fastball.

But lo and behold, this pitcher has some extra gas and they pitched it at 103 miles an hour.

It left the pitcher's hand, you look where it should be it isn't there and from your perspective it's almost as if it disappeared.

Poof. It's gone.

When the ball got to 5o feet, it disappeared.

It was almost like a jet taking off.

All of a sudden... Woo!

You could lose a baseball between the pitcher's hand and it getting on you.

Your brain tells you to swmcs.

You knew you were gonna make contact and then you swing and miss and your brain goes, "why'd you miss?"

If you think about the process 0f visual perception what you're really doing is looking at the positions of the ball and making a best guess all the time about where it's likely to be.

So if things happen that you didn't anticipate, all sorts of optical illusions, essentially can happen.

So one of the ones that can happen for the batter is that the ball can completely disappear.

And the 2-2.

Swing and a miss. It's all over.

Our brain does a really good job of filling in gaps between the things that we see and sort of allows us to tell a story that makes sense about what happened.

In that case where the ball is faster than your eye movements, the batter fails to reacquire the visual image of the ball.

And the ball is now sort of beyond the point where he thought it was.

He's gonna look to a particular spot and expect the ball to be there and the ball's not there.

Now there's almost an error message that occurs and there has to be a new telling of the story.

One story that batter's brains create is that the fastest pitchers can actually make their fastball rise as it approaches home plate.

Koufax, he threw a fastball and that ball would start here and by the time you swing at it, it would hop a little bit up here.

You watch the ball leave l-lls hand, and then when you get ready to swing at it, it rises.

2-2 pitch to Parrish, got him swmeuue.

Dwight gooden, he had a lot of jump and movement on the ball upward.

There's very few guys that get that.

You can know a fastball's coming, but it had that upward rising to it.

And I could almost feel the sting hit my mustache.

That ball really scared me.

You know, because you lost it.

Scientists say it can't happen.

The ball can't rise.

I don't know, I don't think they ever played baseball.

I don't think they did.

It may not sound logical, but it rises.


I don't want to get into an argument with a scientist about that.

I have to say that in some cases they make a mistake.

It wasn't impossible for it to happen, because it did.

You come over the top and you hold a four-seamer this way.

You got one, two, three, four.

Across the seams.

It did go up a little bit.

You have to throw pretty hard.

Those guys that throw 80s and 89, 90, that ball's not gonna go up.

Chapman, I guarantee you his ball goes up a little bit.

Devastating fastball, that has that late life.

It's impossible.

You believe that the rising fastball's impossible?

Yeah, I believe it's impossible.

But I think... you know, I don't think it's possible for a fastball to rise.

But I think it's possible for a ride.

You know, something that's different.

Well, I tried to get the ball to ride.

You know, if you talk to a physicist, he says a ball does not rise, but it does not drop as fast as others.

You hear guys that say they have "good ride through the zone."

You know, it's just a natural spin.

You know, 12 to 6, just like this.

Once the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, the dominant force acting on the ball is the one we're all familiar with, it's the force of gravity.

So the ball drops.

Something like that.

For a 90-mile per hour fastball, it's going to drop about three feet if the only force on the ball was the force of gravity.

But a four-seam fastball has a strong backspin on it.

That creates a Magnus force that's pushing upwards so the ball still drops, but it drops slower than it would.

And the trajectory the ball takes is something like that.

It actually crosses home plate about 10 inches higher.

If this is what a qo-mile per hour fastball looks like, think about a 100-mile per hour fastball, perhaps with a stronger backspin and more Magnus force, it will have a higher trajectory

and cross home plate inches above th e Stan dard four-seam fastball.

The visual was that it would kind of ride, it would kind of like ride up and away from you.

You swing at that fastball...

How could I not hit that pitch?

Every... it always gets on top of my bat.

Now that's a fastball that's hard to hit.

Physics tells us the ball is really moving in a smooth arc throughout it's trajectory.

The problem is, if we go back to the first half of the pitch, there's very little difference in the trajectories between a-100 mile per hour fastball, and a 90-mile per hour fastball.

And it's the beginning of the pitch the batter has to use to estimate where the ball's gonna cross home plate.

It's not until the ball gets very close that he realizes that the ball is actually up here, and this will give the illusion that the ball pops upwards at the very end.

It's not because it actually does, it's the difference between where his brain is telling him the ball is gonna be and where it actually is when it approaches home plate.

I think scientists are crazy if they think that.

I mean... Craig kimbrel.

It looks like his fastball rises every time he throws it.

They need to grab a helmet, grab a bat and get in the box, 'cause they don't understand what's going on up there.

I wanna see if you recognize them, even know the name.

Any name on there familiar to you?


Jack Smith.

That's not the one we're talking about. Well, I didn't know.

I just said that. I had 25% chance.

I didn't wanna say, "no."

No. I mean, I don't...

Steve dalkowski.

Steve dalkowski?

No, don't know it.

How would I know it?

I'll show you something.

And ask you to tell me who you see on that card and tell me about him.

Well, the guy that kinda sticks out is Steve dalkowski.

What is it?

That guy right there, can you...

Steve dalkowski...

1963 rookie stars.

Oh, my god.

I want you to take a look at this card and see if there's anybody there you've heard of.

Speaking of the fastball...

0l-| yeah, yeah. This dalkowski...

He's legendary.

There's no man on earth that ever had more talent. No man.

There's a man that if he could've gotten it over, I really believe he could've just made his living just th rowing fastballs.

Well, I didn't know Steve dalkowski.

I knew of him.

And obviously i came up in that era that everybody knew him and they said he was the hardest throwing... thrower that everybody that had ever saw him, said that.

And I never saw him.

But people did talk about him.

Oh, he was a legend.

And you hear all these stories about him.

Like "bull durham's" nuke laloosh.

Who was based in part on dalkowski, or sidd Finch, George plimpton's imaginary pitcher who threw 168 miles per hour.

The story of Steve dalkowski sounds like pure myth.

But it was real.

Tell us what we're looking at, what did that arm do?

Threw a ball faster than anybody that ever lived.


The nastiest I ever faced was the hardest thrower who threw a baseball was Steve dalkowski.

You know, you get into discussions about who threw the ball the hardest.

Well, this guy will come up in every conversation that the guys played back in the day saw this guy throw.

They 8nd that he... he was the hardest thrower that they ever saw.

And this is hard to believe and as you get older, the stories get bigger, but I was there.

Steve and I played together for two years in the minor leagues.

He's sort of a cult figure in a way, because he never played in the major leagues.

We were teammates in elmira aa.

And he was running the outfield one time and I said, "Steve, can you throw that ball through this fence?"

And it was 1x6s.

He said, "i don't know." He hadn't even warmed up.

He grabbed a ball and just fired it at the wall, and threw it right through the wall.

I said, "i guess you can."

One game, he broke my shin guard.

Split my shin guard.

Another game, he broke the mask, the bar mask that I had.

So after that i got a wire mask.

I said, "man, I'm not taking any chances."

But he threw harder than...

This day than any man i ever saw in my life.

Who taught you to throw fast?

You don't teach people how to throw fast.

It just comes natural.

I would love to have seen him throw at his prime.


Because what people said about him, obviously he had one of those special arms.

Befitting the legend of Steve dalkowski, no one has ever found any footage of him pitching.

Tell me about that guy.

He's a good guy.

Couldn't throw strikes.


He was very wild.

Sometimes when he threw BP, you know it was questionable if he could throw it in the cage.

I was do this and the ball would go like that.

Out of control they say.

His problem was more up and down than it was in and out.

You could tell Steve to throw the ball, "and I want you to hit a foot in front of the plate.

I want you to throw the ball 59 feet."

And the ball would be over the catcher's head by the time it got to the plate because his ball had so much...

He had so much backspin on his ball.

That the ball rose that quickly.

Everywhere he pitched, he set strikeout records.

But for every new mark for strikeouts, there was another new record f or walks.

He pitched 697 innings, and had 1,099 strikeouts.

And he had more walks than he had strikeouts.

By 100.

Pretty amazing.

You still have to throw the ball over the plate.

Could not throw a strike.

Tried everything.

I mean, everything.

All he wanted to do was get the fastball over and he could not do it.

What a shame.

Over the years, it almost became an obsession with him to try to conquer his control.

And he was getting better.

He wasn't perfect, but he was getting better.

M 1962 at elmira, under a new manager, the future hall of famer, Earl Weaver.

Dalkowski finally found the plate.

Over his final 52 innings that summer, he struck out 104 while walking only 11.

After all them years of my life, I finally got word that I'm gonna have the chance to make it.

That felt real good.

M spring training 1963, dalkowski pitched in two games against the Dodgers and the Yankees.

Allowing no runs and no hits.

Topps printed his baseball card.

In the morning of his final appearance, he was told he had made the team.

And was fitted for a big league uniform for the very first time.

Then with two outs in the third inning, Steve came off the mound to field a bunt, as he threw to first he felt a pop in his elbow.

Tell me about walking off the field and knowing that you are hurt.

I said, "why me?"

And I start crying.


Steve went back to the minor leagues.

He would never throw a pitch in the majors.

I felt so bad about him because...

When he was trying to get it back, you could walk downtown at 1:00 in the morning and you'd find Steve sitting down there with a bottle of wine.

I mean, he... it really, really tore at his heart.

It's a shame that...

That a talent like that never got there.

It's a fragile deal.

And if... you know, if the wrong thing happens, you never know.

He was just somebody that was unable to conquer his control.

And it's just unfortunate that he never made the big show.

If he'd had harnessed his control and gone to the big leagues, I think he would have been one of the premiere fastball pitchers, you know, ever in baseball.

During the years that dalkowski was struggling to just find the plate in the minor leagues, another lefty was working to control the lightning in his own arm in the majors.

This pitcher, it was said, had been born with the left arm of god.

And when Sandy koufax harnessed his gift, he became a legend.


Boy, I mean, it came in and it went...

You could hear it go...


One time he threw a pitch in there and I said, "ball."

He got the ball back like this.

And looked in at me and he went like this with his hand.

As if to ask, "was it too high?"

And you know, i just nodded.

That's right.

Next pitch, he brought it down six inches, same thing. Zoom, zoom, wham. Strike three.

What a grand, grand thing to sit back there and see this.

In 1965 on a late summer night in Los Angeles, koufax took the mound for the Dodgers.

The game wasn't on TV.

But the Dodgers trainer, bill buhler, was an amateur film buff and brought his camera to the game.

He found an empty seat behind home plate and began to roll.

For decades the film sat forgotten in a closet.

Now recently uncovered and restored.

A glimpse of Sandy koufax on a night that maybe god himself created especially for his own left arm.

Batter after batter, koufax was pitching with mastery.



And a fastball that split the night.

With his handheld camera, the Dodgers' trainer was capturing history.

Till there were two out in the third.

And bill buhler ran out of film.

Only the 29,000 at dodger stadium that night actually witnessed what happened next.

Threw 82i3rds, 26 up and 26 down.

And to capture the final moments, there was nothing but the hall of fame voice, of vin Scully on the radio.

Making imagination real, and baseball that night...


He is one out away from the promised land.

And Harvey kuenn is coming up.

And koufax takes a hitch at his belt and walks behind the mound.

I would think that the mound at dodger stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world.

Sandy into his windup. And the pitch.

A fastball for a strike.

And you can almost taste the pressure now.

Koufax lifted his cap, ran his fingers through his black hair, then pulled the cap back down, fussing at the bill.

And there's 29,000 people in the ball park and a million butterflies.

Sandy readying a strike one pitch.

Very high and he lost his hat, he really forced that one.

Trying to get that little extra.

You can't blame a man for pushing just a little bit now.

Now Sandy looks in.

Into his windup and the 2-1 pitch to kuenn.

Swung on and missed. Strike two.

Two and two to Harvey kuenn.

One strike away.

Sandy into his windup.

Here's the pitch.

Swung on and missed! A perfect game!

A warm summer night.

A golden voice crackling over the airwaves.

And a fastball no one could hit.

Baseball fans didn't have to see it to know how it felt.

Because in our minds, it was the thing we always see.

The phenom made good.

The dream made real before our eyes.

The pitcher with the gift of the fastball.

Commanding the magic in his arm.

For me it's... I don't know, I think koufax was the most consistent of any fastball that I had to face.

You know, day in, day out.

I say that to all the guys, I said, I don't think anybody threw harder than koufax.

I have to tell you a story, i grew up in San Francisco watching koufax against the giants and those guys all the time.

You know, as a kid or something, I just would...

I just wanna face Sandy koufax.

You know, you get in your mind, you wanna face him, right?

So my rookie year, we're going to dodger stadium and koufax was gonna pitch the next day. It was validation.

And I'm like, "man, I can't wait."

And the guys on the bus are looking at me like I'm crazy.

"Are you stupid or what are you wanna do?"

Right, so...

And I find out the next day i was stupid, right?

I mean, honest, it took me two at-bats before I even fouled a ball, right?

He just blew me away the first time, the next time, then I fouled a ball, right?

I came back and I told one of the guys, I said, "i got him now."

He struck me out, see? Right?

So I go back up and I hit a pop up.

I said, "i told you I got him."

Who's the fastest you ever saw?

Uh, Juan berenguer.

With 101.5 in AAA.

And he was still throwing about 100 for Minnesota when I faced him.

He is just pumping some major league gas.

Oh, mercy.

Of all the people I've watched over the last 4o years I think Billy Wagner was probably as hard a thrower as I'd seen.

Here's the pitch. Swme and a miss at a high fastball at 100 miles an hour.

You're not gonna catch up to that one.

I'd probably say it's Kevin brown.

I really didn't like facing that guy.

He threw hard.

He just has so many different windups.

And he used to always come high and tight on me, I used to be... And I was young then, I was scared to be in there in the batter's box with Kevin brown.

I mean, plus everybody knew he was kind of crazy too.

Robin Roberts.

And when you got men on base, he could throw a little bit harder.

He just reached back and threw more.

I said, "wow.

Boy, this guy can throw the ball."

Herb score.

I saw score when I was just a kid.

My grandfather took me to an exhibition game and I never saw anybody who could throw the ball that hard.

It's one of those things you remember in life.

The ball literally just jumped.

I couldn't see the ball.

And I told my grandfather, i said, you know, I've never seen anybody, grandpa, thrcw a ball this hard."

And the young hard thrower, Joel zumaya.

The rookie into the game.

Joel zumaya.

It just exploded out of l-lls hand.

After the pitch was thrown it was like by me, and I'm like, "wow, this... That was kinda hard.

Let me look up and see what the radar says."

And the gun said 103. And now I'm like, "oh, my god, I gotta use all my mechanics, I gotta get it ready early and just swing.

So I got my foot down and I'm ready to go.

My eyes got a little bigger.

Swme and a miss, he went after the curve ball.

He struck him out.

And then he threw me a curve ball and I look like bugs bunny spinning in the ground, it was terrible.

I remember my first year.

And I was 20 years old.

You know, I was wide-eyed and overwhelmed.

I'm in yankee stadium for the first time playing.

I remember getting in the box and got to a 3-2 count.

And the catcher says to me, well there's no mystery what he's gonna throw right here.

And he struck me out on the fastball.

Percival strikes out jeter to end the ball game.

I got sent down right after that.

But just wanted to come back and get a chance to redeem myself.

All right, who was the hardest thrower? Just pick one.

I would say Nolan Ryan. Nolan Ryan.

Nolan Ryan.

I would say Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan. Each side.

I would say Nolan. I mean, it was high heat.

And you were... from the time you just left the dugout you were starting to swing.

I mean, it was just one of those things.

You know when I threw a fastball right and I stayed with it, I knew as soon as it left my hand, whether it was the right pitch or not, it was thrown correctly.

That was a gift.

Right past him, Nolan. Right past him.

There's certain guys that are electric what I called.

You don't know whether they're gonna strike out 15 or you don't know whether they're gonna pitch a no-hitter.

And Nolan, when he got to the big leagues at 19 years old, that's the kind of guy he was.

When he threw that fastball above the waist, it just exploded.

Pitching for the miracle mets in the 1969 national league playoffs, 21 year old Nolan Ryan faced home run king, Hank Aaron.

I had a good series against the mets.

I hit one off seaver, I hit one off koosman, and I hit one off gentry.

Hank Aaron now has homered m each game 0f this series.


And Nolan Ryan was the one that almost hit me, he cooled my pepper down right here.

I grew up in the era that was understood that 0-2, you knocked the hitter down.

And that you established that you would pitch in.

And that's the way i was taught.

That intimidation is a tool that you can use.

Men and tight.

And I tell people that that's a lost art nowadays.

He's outta there on strikes.

Nolan had this edge about him.

And he was not afraid to throw one under your chin.

I'd get goosebumps.

It's ridiculous to say, but you... I could've got hit in the head and died at home plate against him, you know?

There's a lot on the line there.

It's a damn scary at bat.

Nolan Ryan was my last year.

And I says, "Nolan, don't hit me."

"I'm retiring next year, please don't hit me." Wpleaset I want to be able to play golf when I'm retired.

With the mets, Ryan struggled to control the lightning in his arm.

I just threw as hard as i coul_l:> For as long as I could.

There were times, you know, that when I released the ball, I didn't know where it was going.

It's kinda like what Oscar gamble said, he said, "a good night tonight is 0-4 and don't get hit in the head."

You know.

M 1971 when the angels called the mets looking to trade for pitcher Gary gentry, the mets refused.

The angels settled for their second choice.

And Nolan Ryan moved to California.

Nolan Ryan, when he first started was incredibly wild.

So when the trade came in and the headline, "ls he Rex Barney or is he Sandy koufax?"

There was a lot of reason to believe that he was Rex Barney.

The great line about Rex Barney was that he would have been a great pitcher if the plate had been high and outside.

And Nolan Ryan could easily have become that.

What nobody knew about him, and I don't even know if Nolan Ryan knew about himself, was that he had this extreme competitiveness.

So he had the great arm and he had this just hunger to be successful.

Every single day, every single pitch.

Almost immediately, Ryan began an assault on baseball's pitching records.

First came the single season mark for strikeouts.

Next came the no-hitters.

He popped it up. A tough play.

No-hitter for Nolan Ryan.

There were a lot of times when I was an over thrower and that was something i had to fight my whole career.

But once I got control of that, I became more effective.

And I knew if I hit my spot, they weren't gonna hit it.

They're rooting for Ryan to throw one more strike.

The 2-2 pitch.

It's strike three called.

Nolan Ryan has pitched his fourth no-hitter.

Four no-hitters equaled Sandy koufax's record.

There was no doubt that Ryan's fastball was the fastest in the big leagues.

The only question that remained was it the fastest ever?

I think the three guys who are different from anybody else are Walter Johnson, Bob feller and Nolan Ryan.

In the moment, in their moment, people saw them as the fastest ever.

When Walter Johnson was pitching, story after story simply referred to him as the fastest pitcher ever. It was a fact.

It wasn't something that anybody threw out as an opinion.

And then when feller came in, it was the same thing.

And I think then you have to go all the way to Nolan Ryan who everybody wanted to sort of use as the example.

Okay, how fast can a human being throw a baseball?

No pitcher had ever had l-lls fastball clocked during an actual game.

But in 1974, the invention of the device that would become the radar gun made it possible for the first time.

We have a coherent infrared radar located in the press box at anaheim stadium.

And we send an infrared beam down over the catcher and umpire's head.

They had me go out and throw some warm up pitches.

And you know, they had one at 74, and then it went up to 84, and then I think the highest I threw in those five warm up pitches was 93 and I was sitting out... Standing out there thinking this is gonna be a wreck.

Because it was all sheer speculation of what people threw.

You know, you hear this guy has a 100-mile an hour fastball.

Bob feller was the hardest thrower ever at 98.6.

And you know, and nobody really knew.

The device was set up to measure his pitching speed about 10 feet in front of home plate.

And he was actually clocked at 100.8 miles per hour on that night.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're pleased to announce that Nolan Ryan, officially is the fastest pitcher in baseball history.

Ryan's fastest pitch came in the ninth inning.

He finished the night with 159 pitches.

Ryan was officially sanctioned as the fastest.

But as time passed what became even more amazing than how fast Ryan threw, was for how long he could throw that fast.

Well, I pitched a game against Luis tiant, in '74, where I threw somewhere around 232 pitches.

I walked 10 and struck out 19.

Nolan had pitched 15 innings against the Red Sox on Monday.

And Friday was his day to pitch and I said, "you want an extra day?"

He said, "no." He said, "i wanna pitch Friday."

So I'm not gonna tell Nolan Ryan he needs an extra day, that's if he wants to pitch every fourth day, and he went out there and he threw a 1-0 shutout.

When I started the game, my intent was to finish the game.

That was my game and I didn't want to turn it over to somebody.

And if that's what it took that's what you did.

You know, he had 77 games where he was leading in the seventh lnning.

And he finished all 77 of them and won them.

So he was his own closer.

I probably averaged somewhere between 150 and 170 pitches a start.

And on today's, that's unheard of.

And anybody allowing the pitcher to do that, they'd run them out of town.

Ryan was 27 years old and believed his days as a fireballer were numbered.

"I don't look for longevity," he said.

"If I can escape injury, I should be a fastball pitcher for another five years."

When I went to Houston as a free agent, in 1980, iasked for a three year contract.

'Cause I was 32 years old and i figured you know, in three years, that's probably will be a reasonable time, I'd be out of the game.

But "the Ryan express" was just getting started.

This may be m no-hitter number five!

First he pitched l-lls fifth career no-hitter.

A new record.

Then at age 36, Ryan broke Walter Johnson's all time strikeout record.

A mark that had stood for 56 years.

Longer than babe Ruth's career home run record.

And there's the record breaker.

3,509 strikeouts...

Five years later, Ryan became the first 40 year old to ever lead the league in strikeouts.

And if that wasn't enough, he led the league in e.R.A. That same season.

"The Ryan express" continues to blow people away.

He went to the Texas rangers and the led the league in strikeouts for four straight years.

Including over 300 strikeouts at age 43.

Called strike three. There's 300.

And the no-hitters kept coming.

Nolan's looking for a career seventh no-hitter at the age of 44.

Number seven is in the books.

The remarkable Ryan has done it again.

[Posnanskh I think Nolan Ryan wanted to be unhittable every single day.

I don't think Nolan Ryan ever wanted to concede anything.

Every batter he faced, he wanted to strike out.

And there it ls, strike three.

The grunt told you it was a fastball.

He put everything he had into his fastball.

Including a grunt.

Nolan grunted very loud when he threw a fastball.

He threw it as hard as he could throw it.

And no one else did that.

He struck him out swinging.

Strikeout number 5,000 is history for Nolan Ryan.

He just keeps going and going and going.

Until the point where he puts the record 2,000 strikeouts ahead and is so far ahead that nobody's ever gonna touch that record.

I mean, it's just... It's staggering.

He was still throwing 96 at that age.

He was still throwing 95, 96 and it was always a tough at-bat.

M l-lls 27th season, at age 4e, Ryan felt a pain in the elbow.

What happened was I pitched in anaheim five days earlier and my elbow was sore.

And obviously I didn't know it at the time, I probably had injured my elbow.

And so when I warmed up in Seattle, my elbow was bothering me.

And as I went out and tried to pitch in the game, I had nothing. Gave up a grand slam.

A grand slam home run for howitt.

I didn't get anybody out. It kept getting worse.

And then it just finally popped like a rubber band.

Inside 3-1.

Oh, boy. That's not good.

And I knew that lt... That I'd had torn it.

He turns to Kevin Kennedy and that's it.

Uh-oh, he's finished.

Oh, boy.

Boy, you just hope this lsn't the way it ends.

The sign says, "Nolan, thanks for the memories."

And the kingdome fans are standing.

It wasn't exactly the way I envisioned walking off the mound for the last time.

Nolan Ryan's last fastball was clocked at 98 miles per hour.

To compare pitchers from different eras, fastballs thrown in different conditions.

Measured in different ways and marveled at by different generations.

This is the question that every baseball fan wants to answer.

Who really threw the fastest ever?

Today, all pitches are clocked at 50 feet from home plate, virtually the instant the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.

So 50 feet from home was the point where aroldis Chapman's pitch officially registered at 105.1.

Well, physics tells us that a ball traveling at 105.1 miles per hour at this point here is going to slow down considerably as it travels toward the batter.

As the ball is moving, it has to push the air out of the way so it's losing energy to the air and that causes it to slow down.

This is called "drag."

So what 0f the methods used m the speed test for Walter Johnson, Bob feller and Nolan Ryan?

The three pitchers known in their own eras as the fastest of all time.

Walter Johnson's reading of 83.2 miles per hour starts to feel different when we look closer at the apparatus used.

In which the trigger, a wire target, sat 60 feet, 6 inches from Johnson.

And the metal plate that completed the test was 15 feet behind that.

What that means is, you're actually computing the average speed of the baseball as it passes from the wire frame to the plate.

So effectively, you're measuring the speed of the baseball at this point right here, which is about the equivalent of seven and half feet behind home plate.

But we're interested in the speed of the baseball at this point here.

About 50 feet in front of home plate.

Because that's our standard point of comparison.

So we have to make a correction for the fact the ball's gone actually from this point here to this point here.

A total of 50 feet plus 7 and a half at 57 and a half feet.

At a rate of one mile per hour for every 5.5 feet.

That makes a correction of about 10.6 miles per hour.

So we really should be saying...

93.8 miles per hour.

In 1946, Bob feller's pitch was measured right at home plate.

So to compare to today's pitches.

We have to estimate what that pitch would have been

50 feet in front of home plate.

So that means we have to take the 98.6, add 9 miles per hour, we can estimate that he was pitching with a speed of 107.6 miles per hour.

For that pitch.

Nolan Ryan's 100.9-mile per hour pitch requires a similar adjustment.

M 1974, the radar gun ls positioned to pick up the speed of the ball about 10 feet in front of the batter.

Again, what we would really like to know, what that speed was at about 50 feet in front of home plate.

To do that, we add on about 7 and a half miles per hour, and we come out with a number of 108.5 miles per hour.

At the 50 foot mark.

So we believe that once we make corrections, this is really the fastest pitch recorded.

[Posnanskh 60 feet, 6 inches, it's sucl-| a weird distance.

I don't know if it was luck or if it was just sort of this...

This sense of geometry.

It just sort of felt right to them.

That felt like the right distance, 60 feet, 6 inches.

And here it is all these years later and it's perfect.

It's absolutely perfect.

The game, its essence comes down to that.

It's just pitcher-hitter.

"I'm gonna throw the ball as hard as I can...

Let's see if you can hit lt."

Struck him out!

[Posnanskh that's what baseball's been for 12o years.

Struck him out with a fastball.

[Posnanskh that's the timelessness of the game, and I think that's the fastball at its core.

It feels like what was possible in 1936 is the same thing that's possible now.

It feels like that hasn't changed.

And that's part of what's great about it.

The game changes, it moves up, it moves down.

But that one thing...

Throw the ball as hard as you can...

Just stays constant through all.