Pitch writers go behind the scenes of rain delay episode
Every week, a member of the cast or crew of Fox’s Pitch — the fictional story of the first woman to play Major League Baseball — is taking EW behind the scenes. For each episode, a cast or crew member is sharing thoughts on what went down, what’s coming up, and walking us through the ins and outs of the show. This week, staff writer Ester Lou Weithers and co-executive producer Becky Hartman Edwards break down the eighth episode, “Unstoppable Forces and Immovable Objects.”
First off, Hartman Edwards shares what it was like to write the episode with Lou Weithers:
As a diehard Red Sox fan, writing for Pitch has been a dream come true. One of my favorite parts of the job has been pulling back the curtain and learning about the inner workings of a professional baseball team, which was why I was so excited when I was asked to co-write our rain delay episode. As a fan, I spent rain delays using my program as an umbrella, kicking myself for not checking the weather before I went to Fenway. As the players filed out of the dugout and into the stadium, I always wondered where they were going and what they were doing. Finally, this was my chance to find out. We interviewed players, the San Diego Padres head groundskeeper, and members of the front office, and used what we discovered in the episode. My other favorite part of writing this episode was joining forces with Ester Lou Weithers. I’ve been writing for television for over 20 years, and I’ve written more episodes of television than I can count. This was Ester’s first produced episode. She not only knocked her half of the script out of the park — sorry, Pitch lends itself to so many baseball puns, it’s hard to resist — she also helped produce every aspect of the episode, from casting to weighing in on the rain special effects.
Now it’s time for Lou Weithers’ take on the episode:
Writing for Ginny Baker
The singular experience of Ginny Baker, brought to life by the one-of-a-kind Kylie Bunbury, was one I couldn’t imagine, but somehow still relate to. Before Pitch, the most I knew about baseball was that games were long, seasons were longer, and it was just as acceptable to hate the Yankees as much as love them. Still, as a daughter of Caribbean immigrants — sent to schools where only a few students looked like me and working in industries where almost all the tops influencers were men — I knew how it feels to be the only one of your kind in a room, and the relentless stream of pressure that comes from being an “other.”
Amelia and Will
That pressure almost crushed Ginny Baker in the episodes leading up to 108, but it never broke her. In fact, it made her stronger, just in time to see the two most important people in her world since that car crash: Ginny’s mean-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold agent, Amelia (played by the passionate Ali Larter, who makes bomb-tasting blondies, by the way), and her self-sacrificing brother (masterfully portrayed by the homey B.J. Britt) draw battle lines.
The Return of Will Baker
The return of Will Baker was a hot topic in the writers’ room. You saw that slap. What was his childhood like? And then to turn over his sister’s career to practically a stranger? The list of fanciful ideas about how high or low Will Baker’s life had been since episode 102 was unending. For me, Will’s return hit a special nerve. Here was a chance to explore the bond between a black brother and sister on network television. So when I was assigned to co-write this episode with “tell it like it is” co-executive producer Becky Hartman Edwards, I got hyped.
Rain Delay, Kangaroo Court, Bottle Episode
When you’re an “other,” especially an exceptional one like Ginny, the presence of family can be equally a burden and a blessing. And if Ginny had it her way, she would deal with Will’s pop-up when her schedule was light and Amelia was away. Enter three traditions that would not let Ginny Baker live in peace: the rain delay, Kangaroo Court, and the bottle episode.
Thanks to this year’s World Series, I don’t have to explain how impactful a rain delay can be to a game. Typically though, rain delays provide a light-hearted release of pure fun. Fans sliding on the tarp; dance-offs between teams; mascot battles — all great moments unique to baseball. But in the end, there was nothing as fascinating as Kangaroo Court.
Designed to let team leaders keep their teams in check and have a good laugh at the same time, Kangaroo Court was an honored tradition in baseball clubhouses. According to our consultants, smart phones and video games have stolen a little bit of its thunder. But as long as Mike Lawson wears a Padres’ uniform, Kangaroo Court would live at Petco Park.
On Mike Lawson
With the world changing around him, how long would Lawson wear that uniform? While the rain delay foreshadows the butting heads of Amelia and Will, for Lawson, it lets in the uneasy winds of change around him. From one direction, Livan (played by Christian Ochoa — the perfect and yet complete opposite of Livan) blew in with cockiness that rivals Mike. From the other direction is Ginny and her fame. The perfect storm is brewing for Mike Lawson to lose his cool. The team captain is supposed to revel in Kangaroo Court. He’s the judge; the one issuing fines for infractions on and off field, with wisecracks on the side. Instead, Lawson, king of the furrowed brow (played by the incomparable and super cool Mark-Paul Gosselaar) gets in his feelings and says a few things he’ll soon regret.
My Experience On Set
That’s the beauty of a bottle episode; it takes place in one location and forces all your characters to deal with what they’ve been avoiding. The challenge is keeping the visuals of the episode fresh. Fortunately, we had a clever veteran director (and undercover comedian) Chris Koch and a hardworking, badass crew. My first day on set was pure TV magic; not only did the crew surprise me with a birthday cake, but there was rain — actual streams of water, falling from above, plopping to the ground…rain. On a stage!
The clever part, thanks to the brilliant folks in the writers room, is that even though our location was contained, the drama was not. Mike couldn’t escape Oscar or Blip inquiring about these trade rumors. Ginny was forced to say things she wasn’t ready to say to Amelia or Will. We live-tweet during the show to vaguely answer questions you may have about #Bawson. Instant fan feedback is one of the coolest things you can experience as a writer. The two-screen TV watching experience is something I’m very proud of at Pitch.
Of course, my greatest source of pride is to be a part of Ginny Baker’s storytelling journey — adding to the finally expanding spectrum of women of color on network television. To paraphrase our stellar pilot: Welcome to primetime, Ginny Baker. We’ve been waiting for you.
Pitch airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.