As a huge baseball fan (Let’s Go Oakland!) one of the new shows this Fall already set up on my DVR is Pitch from creators Dan Fogelman, known for such gems as Galavant, Tangled, and Cars, and Rick Singer, known for American Dad! and Suddenly Susan among others. The series, premiering on Fox on September 22nd, stars Kylie Bunbury (Under The Dome) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved By The Bell, NYPD Blue). Supporting cast includes Michael Beach (Third Watch, True Romance), Ali Larter (Final Destination, Resident Evil), and Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years, Independence Day).
Pitch tells a story of Ginny (Bunbury), who is the first woman to break the gender barrier in Major League Baseball, something that is on the cusp of happening in reality and not just in fiction. Three women were signed this year to the Sonoma Stompers, an independant professional baseball team based out of Sonoma, CA that is part of the Pacific Association of Baseball Teams. Japan has already drafted its first female player; in 2008 Eri Yoshida, a side-armed knuckleball pitcher, was drafted to the Kansai Independent Baseball League.
One of the major obstacles Ginny faces as pitcher in the big leagues in her arm strength. Women don’t have the ability to throw a 100mph fastball, it’s simple biology. So from a young age, her father (Beach), grooms her to learn trick pitches like a screwball, something a veteran pitcher would use after his velocity started to fall off, in order to confound the opposing batter. Ginny has to learn that there is more to pitching in the majors than just throwing every five days though, as the weight of being the first woman to break that gender barrier in addition to the stress of being a professional athlete weighs heavily on her shoulders. She has to prove herself to her catcher (Gosselaar), who is also the captain of the team (the San Diego Padres), and handle derision from other teammates who want her to fail. She has some friends on the team, as well as her agent who left a career as a Hollywood publicist to represent Ginny, played by Larter.
This series stands apart from others focused on a sports franchise in that Fox has partnered with Major League Baseball to give the series access to stadiums, uniforms, teams, players, and more. The show is utilizing loads of experts and ex-players, including Alan Jaeger who has worked with more than 200 pitchers (including Barry Zito, Dan Haren, and Andrew Bailey), to offer insight and expertise to make sure everything is as authentic as possible. In fact, Kylie Bunbury is actually doing the pitching herself. She was cast before the creators even had a script, so that she had months of training time available before they started shooting the pilot.
Thirteen episodes have been ordered for now, but it will be interesting to see if the World Series schedule on Fox will have an effect on Pitch’s airing schedule. I am really looking forward to this show, it has been on my radar for months. A show about a woman of color breaking stereotypes and gender norms in professional baseball is right up my alley. I will be tuning in and live-tweeting my little thumbs off, so please join me!
PITCH airs Thursday, Sept. 22 (8:59-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX
A Little Bit About Emmy: I’m a science nerd with a degree in Chemistry. I work at Lush and I’m probably watching all your favorite shows and headcannoning everyone as queer. I’m currently watching The X Files and Stranger Things on Netflix and I am stoked for How To Get Away With Murder, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Dirk Gently this fall, and that’s just for starters! I write Destiel, Cockles, and Stucky fanfic too. You can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and AO3.