Ginny Baker may be the talk of the town now, but in the competitive world of baseball, there may be a ticking time clock on how long the first female pitcher can last in the majors on Pitch.
“I don’t even think that that’s something that she’s thinking about,” actress Kylie Bunbury tells EW. “Ginny, to me, is a very present person. She’s just focusing on what she knows. She’s been playing ball her entire life, and she’s good at it. Maybe she’s not the best, and maybe she tops out at 87, that’s fine, but she gets into a groove. I don’t think she’s thinking at all about, ‘Oh, how much longer do I have?'”
But the producers are definitely thinking about it. “Those are things we have discussed,” executive producer Paris Barclay says. “It won’t be a straight journey. It’s not going to be that she gets on the mound and at the end of the season, the Padres win the World Series. It’s going to be a struggle, and it’s going to be a struggle in which she’s going to remain, for a good part of it, an underdog. Ginny’s struggle will be more difficult, will be more challenging, and she’ll have setbacks. It will not be a straight road to success.”
In the premiere, Ginny’s nemesis and fellow pitcher Tommy (Ryan Dorsey), who has been on the DL most of this season, even noted that it’s only a matter of time before other teams figure out her pitch and she becomes a one-trick pony. “I don’t think it’s as simple as what Tommy said in the pilot where they pick up on the one pitch and everybody’s going to be hitting off of it,” co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar says. “She can work on it to make it have more action, and throw it at different speeds, and things like that, so I think she has quite a bit of longevity.”
Co-creator Dan Fogelman concurs: “Those type of pitches don’t just stop,” he says. “You’re a useful commodity if you can do it for a long time. I also think she has pinpoint control and an arsenal of pitches, so if she’s throwing 85 or 86 miles an hour with this really great junk and a special pitch, she can last a long time. Ginny’s probably not going to become a Cy Young Award winner, because that’s not what she’s looking to do, but can she become a long-running, viable pitcher in the majors? I think she can.”
Though Ginny’s popularity is on the rise — so much so she’ll be invited to play in the All-Star game during Thursday’s episode — that doesn’t mean she won’t face a rough road ahead. “When Jackie Robinson broke into Major League Baseball and had an immediate impact on the game, he had to deal with a lot more than Ginny did, but he was a star,” EP Kevin Falls says. “Ginny comes through, if she’s a guy she’s a No. 5 starter, who, chances are, she’s going to get sent back down and is going to have fight for her job every game and for the rest of the season. So, she is on relatively thin ice. The floorboards underneath her are not fortified. She could fall through.”
Ginny’s uncertain future in the majors echoes what most of the viewers were probably wondering after she took the mound in the series premiere: Where does the show go from here? “What’ll be fun in the show is there could be injuries,” Fogelman says. “You can, at the beginning of your career, get sent down to the minors, and you can be at this organization for four weeks and they’ll bring her down to the minor leagues in the midst of a rehab appearance or being the most famous woman in the world. We can move her to the bullpen for an entire season or playoff run. There’s a big arc for a character in the long term, but in the year-to-year and month-to-month of it all, things can change pretty drastically.”
Her short-team possibilities both work against her and in her favor. “She’s also getting multimillion-dollar endorsements,” Falls notes, “because companies know that she has a window, too. She could go any time, but she still is the first. She’s the first person that’s broken that barrier. So she’s making a sh–load of more money than some people who are contributing a lot more to the baseball team and she doesn’t want it at first. She just wants to fit in. She just wants to hang on to her job. But all these other things, like fame and fortune, are actually knocking at the door in a way that could actually hurt her as she tries to advance and fit in on a team.”
Pitch airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.