In the new series, Kylie Bunbury plays Ginny Baker, an African-American female pitcher with a screwball nasty enough to earn her a spot with the San Diego Padres. The series, created in association with MLB, will depict Baker’s opening days in the league and the struggles she encounters while breaking the league’s gender barrier.
Fox released the show’s three-minute trailer Monday, and while it’s only a snippet, “Pitch” seems like it will be able to hit the mark.
The trailer lays out what appears to be the entirety of the pilot’s plot. Baker heads over to the ballpark for the first day on the job, which doesn’t go as planned thanks to some wild pitches and ends with her and a friend discussing her regrets from the outing. Rather than display the shaken pitcher upset with how her initial appearance will affect her career, she laments the pressure from her family, a theme that seems ready to dominate the off-the-field moments we have with Baker through at least the first few episodes.
We also meet the jaded antagonist, who Baker has supplanted in the pitching rotation, and get a look at the player who’s willing to fight on behalf of his new teammate. Outside of a brief shot of a physical locker room altercation between those two, the trailer presents a speech given by the Padres manager about how the team is to treat Baker like any other player and builds up the dynamic between her and her catcher, played by a bearded Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Aside from the one scuffle, the team’s reaction to her signing isn’t shown, though it seems unlikely we won’t get a bevy of opportunities to hear their unfiltered thoughts during the pilot.
In terms of look and feel, the trailer shows off the series’s dedication to making the big-league experience look as authentic as possible. Minus the ending slo-mo shot of her screwball, the appearance of San Diego’s Petco Park, the fans, the Padres locker room and the on-field action all look spectacular — MLB cooperated with the show runners according to a pre-trailer credit and the partnership seems to have paid dividends. Katie Nolan, the real-life star host of “Garbage Time,” also has a cameo in the show as herself. Nolan offers her take on Baker’s historic day, telling viewers, “Bitch and moan all you want, gentlemen, but tonight, a girl’s going to be the lead story in the sports world.”
Taking a step back from the show itself, the premise of “Pitch” — a female having the chance to play MLB ball — is one that has been contemplated and debated and largely supported over the past five years. Most recently, the emergence of youth standout hurlers such as Mo’ne Davis have sparked very real conversation about when, not if, that day will come.
Davis captivated America during the 2014 Little League World Series — not only was she the first African-American girl to compete in tournament history, she also etched her name in the record books by tossing the first female-pitched shutout. Melissa Mayeux, a 16-year-old French shortstop, also garnered a good bit of attention when she became the first female to be added to the MLB’s international registration list, according to MLB.com. And while the duo may be among the most visible young female baseball prospects, they are far from being alone.
“Pitch” should function as the best opportunity for us to visualize what the breaking of the MLB’s gender barrier would look like in 2016, but thanks to the performances of Davis and Mayeux and the efforts of organizations like Baseball For All, the wait time for fiction to turn into reality is dwindling. Until that day comes, “Pitch” will have to serve as the mainstream beacon.