Film Review: ‘Facing Nolan’: Baseball’s GOAT Pitcher

It was the fastest ever thrown baseball ball, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It traveled 105.1 miles per hours. It was thrown by Aroldis Chapoman in 2010, a Cuban pitcher.

However, the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) pitcher to ever play the game of baseball, Nolan Ryan, threw a consistent, blistering, 100.8 mph heater for an astounding 27 years, back in the 1970s—before the advent of today’s advanced training methodologies, nutrition, sophisticated strength training, sports medicine, and steroids. Ryan alone made the power pitcher category a reality.

Legend of the man is both a folk hero, and a legend. “Facing Ryan” tells his story via the players who faced him in his nearly three decades’ worth of pitcher-batter Wild West shootouts. Nolan Ryan was the most intimidating sheriff in town on the mound.

Interview with Nolan Ryan “Facing Nolan.”(The Ranch Productions).

‘Facing Nolan’

Bradley Jackson’s documentary “Facing Nolan”This is the story of a tall, water-drink-of-water Texan from a small Texas village. He married Ruth in 1967. He followed his dream to play Major League Baseball and his high school sweetheart. OtherYou have always wanted to be a rancher. Nolan was a 27-year veteran of four MLB teams. He also managed his cattle ranch in the offseason. His incredible records for no-hitters and strikeouts are still unmatched today.

And then, after he’d laid down the warrior sword and taken up the elder staff, he held executive positions with two of his former teams more than a decade after his retirement from the game.

American Folk Hero

Like all mythological characters, especially Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, stories about their great deeds begin small and then explode into cartoonish stories hundreds of centuries later. “Facing Nolan”Certain elements of this document “Ryan Express”Mythos in Bud.

One such instance of this is the fondly told tale about how Ryan developed his 100 mph fastball as a paperboy, wanging copies of The Houston Post from his bike onto subscribers’ doorsteps in and around his childhood home in Alvin, Texas. Right-hander Ryan explains that it wasn’t from a bike; it was from his dad’s car, and he had to toss the papers with his left hand. So *poof*—there goes that myth.

Ryan was not an overnight success. One interviewee claims that during Nolan’s minor league days, his lack of control was very similar to that of “Nuke”LaLoosh “Bull Durham”Inadvertently, Ryan beaned the team mascot on his head, etc. Ryan says he was disgusted by this incident during his time with the New York Mets. He even considered quitting in 1971.

family in FACING NOLAN
Nolan Ryan and Ruth Ryan, their son Reese and daughter Wendy, at their Alvin, Texas, home in 1979. “Facing Nolan.” (Bettmann/Bettmann Archive)

Ryan’s savvy, immensely stoic, level-headed, and driven wife Ruth knew better. Ryan’s grandchildren claim their inheritance “Nanna-moo” is the most competitive person in the entire family and counterbalances Ryan’s laid-back, off-field personality. Critical to Ryan’s success, Ruth encouraged him through the ups and downs of his career, all while raising their three children. In her mid 70s, she’s as strikingly beautiful as she was the day he married her and is one of the best examples of the phrase “Behind every great man there is a great woman.”

From the Mets and the Angels

Ryan started his professional baseball career back in 1966 with the New York Mets. He was inconsistent, and had very few personal achievements.

He was traded from Texas Rangers to California Angels in 1972. He met a great pitching coach, who helped him to become the Hall-of-Fame catcher he is today. He set the modern-era single season record for strikeouts with 383.

Rangers to Astros Angels to Astros

pitcher with bloody lip in facing nolan
Bo Jackson, designated batter for the Texas Rangers’ against Kansas CityNolan Ryan hit with an aggressive one-hopper during the Royals game (2nd Inst). This caused a two inch gash in Ryan’s lower lip. Ryan couldn’t even put his tongue through it. Ryan threw Jackson out and stayed in the game anyway, leaving in the eighth inning with a 1–0 lead. This is just one example of Ryan’s toughness, in “Facing Nolan.”(The Ranch Productions).

Ryan signed with Houston Astros on August 20, 1980. He was finally able to return to his home state and became a face for the team. He also became the first professional sportsman to earn a one-million dollar salary. His incredible records did not stop there.

After leaving the Astros at the age of 42, Ryan signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers in 1989—the same time George W. Bush, one of the film’s interviewees, was part owner and CEO.

Ryan pitched his unbelievable sixth- and seventh no hitters in the final year of his career (1989-1993). This feat will not be repeated. After a staggering 5,714 strikeouts, he was forced to retire. Randy Johnson, another legend pitcher puts it in perspective. “I’m second to him in strikeouts, and he’s got a thousand more strikeouts than me.”

baseball team carrying pitcher in FACING NOLAN
Texas Rangers teammates carry Nolan Ryan on-field in 1991, after his seventh no hitter. “Facing Nolan.” (Bill Janscha/AP)

Ryan holds a remarkable 51 MLB records. He is also, surprisingly, the best pitcher who has not won a Cy Young Award. The Cy Young Award is presented each year to the top pitchers of both the American Leagues and National Leagues. That’s clearly some kind of twisted politics situation, but it’s never discussed.

Talking Heads

The film unfolds in highlight-reel fashion, and Ryan’s four decades of thrilling athleticism are underscored by plentiful anecdotes from a wealth of all-star interviewees, as well as the extensive Ryan family themselves.

Players describe the electrifying sizzling-bacon sounds and unique experience they have had. “SMACK!!” of Ryan’s fastball ripping through the strike zone and tenderizing catchers’ hands straight through their heavy mitts.

Pete Rose, George Brett, Rod Carew, and Rod Carew all describe Ryan. “the most intimidating pitcher in the history of the game.”Ryan casually admits that he is a fan of one player. “Once I cross that white line, I don’t even like myself.”

One particularly fun reminiscence features Ryan, sitting next to legendary switch-hitter Pete Rose at some honorary baseball gathering, recounting how Rose dared him to throw a particular kind of pitch, claiming that if Ryan did so, he’d “bounce it off your blanking forehead.”Rose nearly had his throat smacked when Ryan threw a pitch. Rose ran to first base and pointed at Ryan constantly. “See? See?”

man in baseball hall of fame in FACING NOLAN
Nolan Ryan, upon being inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame looks at his plaque. “Facing Nolan.”(The Ranch Productions).

Not just for baseball fans

Even viewers without a love for, or in-depth knowledge of, baseball will be engrossed and entertained by Jackson’s celebratory film. Sometimes, it borders on hagiography. It’s not. He was so exceptional that no other adjectives can describe his life. It is very touching to see him with his family. A classic patriarchal patriarchal grandfather-turned-beneign patriarchal father, it is also heartwarming.

Like soft-spoken Texan Ryan himself, “Facing Nolan”The information is simple and clear. The highlights and statistics speak for themselves. America’s tastes in sports may have shifted over the decades from the more easygoing ballpark to the dramatic, violent gridiron, and what used to be “America’s favorite pastime”At the moment, there is more football than baseball. “Facing Nolan”It recalls a glorious period in American sports history.

“Facing Nolan”Fathom Events presented the premiere on March 12, 2022. It was the last night for the No. It was the last night of the No. 7 movie in North America.

“Facing Nolan”It can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Netflix, and Vudu.

Promotional poster for
Promotional poster “Facing Nolan.”(The Ranch Productions).

‘Facing Nolan’
Documentary
Bradley Jackson is the director
Appearing: Craig Biggio, George Brett, George W. Bush, Rod Carew, Roger Clemens, Randy Galloway, Rob Goldman, Randy Johnson, John McClain, Iván Rodriguez, Cal Ripken Jr., Pete Rose, Nolan Ryan, Ruth Ryan, Reid Ryan, Dave Winfield
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Running Time: 1 Hour, 42 Min
Release Date: March 12, 20,22
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Film Review: ‘Facing Nolan’: Baseball’s GOAT Pitcher

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