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Wednesday, 01 June 2022 10:13

‘Facing Nolan’ throws some serious heat

Baseball is a game that is utterly enamored of its own history. No American professional sport is as self-referential as baseball, with an obsession of finding ways to compare the stars of the present with the legends of the past.

But what about those legends for whom there simply is no comparison?

Take Nolan Ryan. If you tried to make him up, no one would believe you. The owner of what many would still argue is the fastest fastball of all time; he was the longtime Guinness record holder, with a recorded fastball velocity of 100.6 miles per hour (though extrapolated to the more accurate measurement tech of today, some estimates have him as fast as 108 at his peak).

Ryan holds all-time career records for strikeouts and walks and no-hitters and 48 others, good and bad. His win-loss record in the majors was 324-292. He pitched for 27 seasons and performed at a high level right up until a career-ending arm injury at age 46 cut things short a couple of starts short of the planned end.

This guy wasn’t a pitcher, he was a goddamned folk hero.

And that energy very much carries through “Facing Nolan,” the new documentary about the pitcher by Bradley Jackson. This is that rare sports doc where we don’t get the “fallen hero/redemption” arc … and we don’t need it. Instead, Jackson simply walks us through a baseball career the likes of which we will absolutely never see again.

Published in Sports

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