While most everyone digs the long ball, the most important aspect of the game of baseball is pitching. This hour-long documentar, put out by Major League Baseball Productions, looks at some of the greatest of the game.
After a brief introduction, it begins with a segment about the science and mechanics of pitching. That is followed by a brief history about legendary pitchers through the 20th Century, offering brief mentions about Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Robert Feller, Robin Roberts, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton.
1968 was the year of the pitcher because players like Gibson and Drysdale were all so dominant. This resulted in major rule changes to the game: the mound being lowered and the strike zone shrunk. One historian credits this mainly to Gibson.
Longer features are devoted to famous and more current names such as Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. In an attempt to highlight pitching stars of the future, the program looks at the Florida Marlins with Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, A.J. Burnett, and the Chicago Cubs with Mark Pryor and Kerry Wood although no mention of the talented Greg Maddox. Unfortunately for the producers neither team made the playoffs this year.
There is also a segment devoted to relievers such as Eric Gagne and Mariano Rivera, and another called “Flameouts” about pitchers who had short but brilliant careers like Mark Fidrych, Dwight Gooden and Rod Dibble.
Pure Heat is filled with interviews from almost all of the aforementioned names as well as historians, broadcasters and current and former players and coaches, including Hall of Famers. It’s a baseball who’s who that would satisfy make any fan of the sort featuring Joe Morgan, Joe Garagiola, Paul Konerko, Luis Gozalez, Steve Garvey, Jim Palmer, Willie Mays, Joe Torre and Bob Brenly. It is especially wonderful to see MLB remember its past by including old-timers like Billy Rogell who played from 1925-’40 and Elden Auker who played from 1933-’42. The only area they didn’t delve into was doctoring balls, which I understand because the league doesn’t want to condone the practice, but it does happen and they did interview Gaylord Perry.
The bonus features are fantastic as offering up historical footage like the 9th inning of Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2004, the 1st and 2nd innings of the 198 All-Star game that featured Clemens pitching, and the final out of Nolan Ryan’s 5th, 6th and 7th No-Hitters. The only downside is that these classic moments made me hunger for more.