As a Texan, it's impossible to understate how important Nolan Ryan is to the state. Even though he only played the back half of his career here, and took neither the Astros nor the Rangers to the World Series (at least as a player), he's still revered. Hell, his most enduring image is not throwing a baseball, but of punching a player who charged the mound. For people my age, who perhaps only saw him play once, he's more myth than man. But while Facing Nolan doesn't really puncture that myth, it does confirm that he actually was that talented, one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Ostensibly told from the POV of the many batters who struck out against Ryan, this is actually a much more traditional sports doc. We get the man's whole life story, from humble beginnings in Alvin, Texas, to early success with the Mets, to his career's unceremonious end in 1993. It's a fawning tribute, made more palatable by Ryan's humble demeanor. It's everyone else who gets to tell us how great he is, not the man himself.
The documentary gets some great footage of Ryan's record-setting strikeouts, including a momentous one that was only broadcast on TV in Canada, and only because the Rangers were playing the Toronto Blue Jays. The most notable aspect in every one is the level of crowd noise. (Former President and Rangers owner George W. Bush even has to turn down the volume on the iPad he's watching because it's so loud.) Fans loved Ryan, even if he was constantly undervalued by sports writers during his playing career. (He never won the Cy Young Award, but was almost unanimously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot.)
Unlike Ryan's career, this documentary probably should have ended a bit sooner. The interviews with his grandkids don't add anything except to further solidify his reputation as a good man on and off the mound. Still, Facing Nolan is something batters rarely earned when Ryan pitched: a home run.