High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time

Tim Wendel, Author
Tim Wendel, Author Da Capo Press $25 (268p) ISBN 978-0-306-81848-6
Reviewed on: 03/08/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-0-306-81970-4
Open Ebook - 305 pages - 978-0-306-82064-9
Open Ebook - 305 pages - 978-1-299-44138-5
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-283-26116-6
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Intent on determining the fastest pitcher ever, Wendel (founding editor of USA TODAY Baseball Weekly) questions former and current players, managers, scouts, historians and other experts for insight into what has become one of the most prized proficiencies in all of sports. Wendel examines such high-heat icons as Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, but also brings readers along on field research: browsing, white-gloved, through documents at the National Baseball Hall of Fame; visiting a rural cemetery in search of the unusual grave marker of James Creighton (""the game's first true fireballer""); making his own fastball attempt at the American Sports Medicine Institute; and more. Wendel also reflects on the fastball's dark side, looking at the steroids era and batters struck (in one instance, killed) by high-speed pitches. Wendel's too-clever organization can muddle the narrative-chapters are arranged by the phases of a pitch (""The Windup,"" ""The Pivot,"" ""The Stride,"" etc.)-but he presents a satisfying search for the ultimate fastball pitcher, with a result that's just conclusive enough (going to the player ""who persevered the most with what was bestowed upon him"") while leaving plenty of room for baseball die-hards' second-favorite sport: debating other fans.
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