A Review of High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball by Tim Wendel

The Hardcover version

The full title of this book is “High Heat: the Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time”. Its chapters are named after different aspects of pitching: The Windup, The Pivot, The Stride, The Arm Acceleration, The Release, The Follow-Through, and The Call. It concludes with the author’s top 12 Fastballers of all time.

High Heat accomplishes the art of story-telling while remaining historically correct and informative. Author Tim Wendel turns himself into investigative reporter as he travels to Cooperstown, NY just ahead of a winter storm to pour himself through the archives. He then went to the ASMI facility of Drs. Glenn Fleisig and James Andrews where they do biomechanical research (mainly on pitchers and other athletes outside of baseball).

Every chapter follows Wendel from city to city in his research to find baseball’s fastest pitcher while interweaving flashbacks to pitchers like Walter “the Big Train” Johnson, Smokey Joe Wood, Nolan Ryan, Steve Dalkowski, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, “Satchel” Paige, Amos Rusie and others. These flashbacks quickly became my favorite sections of each chapter.

The Kindle version

I found myself anxious to read more and I’d bet that anyone who is a SABR member, baseball historian, or avid fan of the game would truly enjoy the book too.

P. S. Don’t forget to read the Preface to see what prompted Tim Wendel on this crazy search. A hint: it all began one autumn night at the President’s Club bar in the National’s Park in Washington D. C. during a conversation with a former player who, at 6-foot-7, looked (at age 72) like he just came down from Mt. Olympus. To find out who this former player was and what was said, you can pick up a copy of High Heat on Amazon. Com.

*Editor’s note:High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time” was provided to me by Mr. Wendel’s PR firm for the purpose of this review and I thank them for a wonderful read!

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  1. Tim Wendel

    May 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Finally catching up to your kind review of High Heat. HH just came out in trade paperback with a new cover. Enjoy.

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