It may be set in the world of baseball, but Fox’s new fall drama Pitch is not a baseball show.
Pitch follows a young female pitcher (Kylie Bunbury) who defies the odds when she becomes the first woman to play in the major leagues. “It’s a show about a young woman coming of age,” executive producer Dan Fogelman told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Monday. “It’s not just about baseball, it’s a show that takes place in the world of baseball.” Fogelman even joked that after watching the pilot, his wife proclaimed, “‘Holy sh–, you actually made me care about baseball.'”
With that in mind, the series will bring the action of baseball to life, but it won’t be overwhelming. “I think we’re making The West Wing in baseball here,” executive producer Paris Barclay said. “It won’t always be around. There’s a lot more to baseball than that.”
“We like human stories for baseball,” EP Kevin Falls added, noting that real world events like the trade deadline and flashbacks to Ginny coming up through the system will allow the series to show a more personal side to the sport.
While the series is not based on current events, Fogelman believes a woman breaking the glass ceiling when it comes to baseball will happen in his lifetime. “I think the right young woman is going to come along, and I think it’s going to happen sooner rather than later,” he said. “When it happens, that young woman will become the biggest story in the country overnight. The amount of tension and eyeballs on her every move is interesting drama.”
That’s the drama at the heart of Pitch. And while the fans aren’t necessarily against a woman taking the mound, it certainly doesn’t sit well with some of the players on her team. “I find it hard to fathom in the great wide world who would really be against this?” Fogelman said. “If a young woman comes along who is capable of playing with the guys, I can’t think of a person who wouldn’t be interested in seeing it. We’re focusing a lot of the drama inside the team. Is this a distraction for the team? Those are the kind of interpersonal dynamics I find most interesting… The world is very ready — has been for some time — to dive into female athletics.”
While Bunbury didn’t have much baseball experience ahead of joining the show, the actress trained for roughly two months to make sure her pitching style was up to snuff. Her next hurdle? Batting. Ginny plays for the San Diego Padres, which falls in the National League, meaning there’s no designated hitter. “It is a storyline,” Fogelman said. In fact, in the third episode, Ginny gets caught in a situation where she’s thrown a ball at a player, which makes for quite a heated situation when she steps up to the plate.
The show will also stay somewhat realistic to what’s happening in the real world of baseball. For instance, Pitch filmed during the recent All-Star game, hosted in real life by the Padres, and we’ll see Ginny pitch during that game on the show. But that level of reality also likely means Ginny’s team won’t be heading to the World Series in season 1.
Pitch debuts Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
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