As the first female player in Major League Baseball on Fox’s new drama Pitch, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) will have to face the overwhelming pressure of becoming an overnight sensation, the astronomically high expectations of her father (Michael Beach), and the nagging question from her teammates on whether she’s just a sideshow gimmick to help the San Diego Padres sell tickets. But there’s one thing she won’t have to face: Gladiators.
Initially the show was slated to launch in spring of 2017, but when ABC moved Scandal to a midseason premiere to accommodate Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, Fox saw an opportunity and a time slot to grab viewers looking for a strong-female-led show in the fall. “There are a variety of reasons, but we kept it off initially because we didn’t want to schedule it against Shonda [Rhimes],” Fox chairman Dana Walden said at TCA. “The idea of putting it up against a juggernaut with female viewers like Scandal was not appealing to us.”
That’s fine by the powers that be behind Pitch, who are grateful not to debut against the hit TGIT political drama. “Kerry Washington getting pregnant worked out great for us, there’s no doubt about that,” EP Kevin Falls says with a laugh.
It also doesn’t hurt that Pitch will now debut in the lead-up to the World Series, which Fox also airs. “I’m happy to have the World Series be the backdrop for the show’s launch — and I’m happy anytime we don’t have to air against a Shonda Rhimes show,” co-creator Dan Fogelman agrees.
But don’t go expecting salacious story lines here. “We want to have the kind of show that makes you feel good,” EP Paris Barclay says. “It’s not about scandal and how negative we can be; it’s about going to the ballpark and enjoying yourself.
It’s that level of hope that makes this such a ripe time for Fox to take a swing with Pitch. “Coming out in the year in which a woman might be the next president and in a year in which gender issues are front and center,” Barclay notes, “people are finally getting the message that there isn’t very much that a woman can’t do that a man is currently doing.”
While this story is fictional, all involved believe it’s not long before it comes to fruition. “We’ve captured something in a moment where it’s right on the cusp of actually happening,” Fogelman says. You heard him, ladies: Lace up!
Pitch debuts Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.