‘Facing Nolan’ Documents Baseball Ace Nolan Ryan’s Amazing Career, From 7 No-No’s To That Famous Noogie Fight: “He’s Mythological”

As Major League Baseball Pauses for the All-Star Break, Let’s Take a Break to Talk About an All-Star for the Ages, the Fireballers nolan ryan,

The Hall of Fame pitcher holds several records that many experts believe will never be broken, including seven career no-hitters and 5,714 total strikeouts, nearly a thousand more than the number two guy on that rare list. It’s Randy Johnson.

Documentary detailed Ryan’s incredible achievements Nolan is facingthe director bradley jackson, which will debut on the digital platform next Tuesday. The film premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in Ryan’s home state of Texas in March, and grossed nearly half a million dollars in theatrical release.

(LR) Producer Russell Wayne Groves, Documentary Subject Nolan Ryan, Director Bradley Jackson, and Documentary Subject Reed Ryan at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, March 12, 2022
Photo by Michael Lokisano / Getty Images for SXSW

It might be fitting that when Jackson first proposed the documentary to Ryan (if you’ll pardon the baseball metaphor) he struck out.

“First of all when we pitched Nolan, he said no,” Jackson tells Deadline. “I got this idea in the summer of 2020 when I was taking a road trip through Texas and I just couldn’t stop thinking, ‘Why hasn’t anyone made a documentary about Nolan Ryan?’ And after I finished it, I realized, ‘Oh, the reason anyone ever made a documentary about Nolan Ryan is because of Nolan Ryan. He didn’t want that.’ He is a very calm, easy going boy.”

Given that Ryan is a man of relatively few words, the director turned to others to speak for him—family members, teammates, former managers, fellow hurlers, and batsmen who confronted him.

Former MLB player Dave Winfield in 'Facing Nolan'

Dave Winfield in ‘Facing Nolan’
ideal world/David Ward

“He’s rubbing the ball, he’s staring at you,” Dave Winfield recalled scoring a goal against Nolly as Ryan Glare communicated, “‘I’m the sheriff here.'”

“There’s no doubt he’s the most intimidating pitcher in the history of the game,” says Randy Johnson. “He’s legendary.”

Of course, it took some time to reach that mythical status. Nolan is facing suggests that the future great was not the most prevalent prospect in the mid-1960s. He was signed by the New York Mets, but only 12. Inth Draft round. Salary: $7,000.

He spent five seasons with the Mets and won his only World Series title in 1969, contributing important post-season innings as a reliever. He wasn’t the star of the Mets staff—that position belonged to Tom Seaver and Jerry Cosman.

Nolan Ryan and family at the SXSW premiere of 'Facing Nolan'

(LR) Nolan Ryan and family at the world premiere of “Facing Ryan” at SXSW. LR sons Reid and Reese Ryan, daughter Wendy Ryan Bivins, wife Ruth Ryan and Nolan Ryan
Photo by Michael Lokisano / Getty Images for SXSW

Undervalued in New York, Ryan considered quitting baseball. His wife, Ruth, convinced him to keep walking. Nolan and Ryan met when they were in grade school, later became high school sweethearts, and married in 1967. The film makes it clear how important she has been to Nolan at every stage of his life.

“For me, making this film was the biggest revelation, because I thought I knew a lot about Nolan,” Jackson says. “When I found out he was considering leaving after the Mets—I don’t think it’s a very public fact. Then when I went deeper and found out he didn’t quit because of his wife, I Knew she was going to be a really central character for this film.”

Ruth Ryan sat down to be interviewed for the film, recalling her disappointment that her husband never won a Cy Young Award (almost inexplicable oversight). Without him, the documentary would not have happened.

,[She] Was able to persuade Nolan to do so,” noted Jackson. “And we’re so glad he did.”

Nolan Ryan at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY

Nolan Ryan at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY
ideal world

Early in his career, Ryan did not have a good command of the strike zone. In a word, he was wild. A little late advice from a pitching coach helps him fix the delivery, which had become like a machine. He raised his left leg, the glove resting on his lap; Like a gambler a gambler takes a nimble peak as his card, then leaps long toward the plate, right hand resting at the elbow, the ball leaving the arm at a consistent release point.

“Great pitchers are great repeaters,” says Jackson, citing Tom House, one of Ryan’s pitching coaches. “You just need to be able to repeat the same motion over and over again in the right sequence and never get distracted by that repetition. That’s what pitching is about. You build a set of mechanical instruments and you just repeat them perfectly every time.” Obviously, this is very difficult to do.”

Ryan bursts into flames – the film estimates his top pitching velocity to be just over 108 mph. But it also had a wicked curve, of the 12-6 type, meaning it swung from high to low instead of side to side, cosmic speaking, from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock. It turned hitters’ feet into spaghetti, and we’re not talking al dente.

Ryan set a record 27 years after retiring in 1993 after stints with the Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. He was the kind of workhorse no longer seen in the major leagues: for example, in a 1974 game, he played 13 innings, throwing 235 pitches against the Boston Red Sox. During his career, he tossed 222 full games.

face nolan poster

One of his most famous debuts came in his final season against the Chicago White Sox. Ryan, 46, hit 26-year-old Robin Ventura off the pitch. Ventura paused, then charged up the mound. But the little guy didn’t get any better than the experienced one. Ryan locked Ventura in a headlock, then flung Nogi (well, really, it was like thumping repeatedly in a close fist). The legend of that stampede lives on.

“Somehow this moment has captured such a life in itself,” wonders Jackson. “Nolan laughs about it because he’s like, ‘I’ve done all these things in my life. And that’s the third question everyone asks me. And they only ask me the third one because they think if they If you ask first, it will be rude.'”

Jackson continues, “We screened the film at Rangers Stadium a few months ago after the Braves played the Rangers. And about 10,000 fans got stuck around. And people applauded and gave a standing ovation during the Robin Ventura sequence in the film. And I’m like, this moment happened 30 years ago! Why are people still in such awe of it? Nolan’s son, Reed, captured it very well in the movie when he said, ‘I think this It’s a bit like the old guys doing an over on the young guys. Like, I’ve got it now. I’ve got it now too.’ …obviously, the moment resonates.”

Nolan Ryan is the executive producer of the film, as well as their two sons, Reed and Reese. At 75 years old, the elder Ryan maintains a farm in Texas, as he has done for several decades. He and his wife have been married for 55 years and have seven grandchildren.

Regarding his achievements, Ryan remains really stubborn.

“Nolan would prefer to talk about his grandson rather than his seventh no-hitter,” Jackson says. “I remember the first time I asked him about his seventh no-hitter. He said, ‘Okay, everything went well for me that day.’ I’m like, ‘Come on! You threw your seventh no-hitter! No one has ever done that, and never will again.’ ‘It was just a good day. I worked on some kinks and put some good defense behind me and it was one of those special nights.'”