As a native of San Diego, a female and a devout Padres fan I have long awaited the season premiere of Fox’s highly advertised drama “Pitch” that aired on Sept. 22.
The show takes us on a young woman’s journey of getting called up from the minors to play Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres, making her the first and only female to play in the big leagues.
The series introduces Kylie Bunbury in her first major role as Ginny Baker, the gorgeous, African-American pitcher who has dedicated her entire life to pitching, thanks largely to her father, Billy Baker, played by Michael Beach.
With an all-star cast of Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos, and our favorite 90’s heartthrob from “Saved by the Bell”, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the drama set itself up for high expectations from viewers. And for the most part, my expectations were met.
Not only does the show tear down gender barriers, but it also applauds and commemorates racial equality. In the show, Ginny Baker is given jersey number 43 by the general manager as he explains “it is one up from Jackie Robinson.” Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play professional baseball and wore jersey number 42.
While the show is a drama, much of the setting was extremely realistic as it is actually filmed in San Diego and the Padres’ home stadium, Petco Park. I found it extremely appealing for the plot to be based on a real professional team using its logos, its brand and even setting it in the city and stadium.
As a big Padres fan, I am very familiar with the dynamic of the team, coaches, and broadcasters and was slightly disappointed that the show’s creators chose to utilize real-life baseball commentators to play themselves, but chose analysts that never actually call Padres games. Using the real analysts of Padres games or random actors would have been a more realistic approach to this aspect of the show.
On the other hand, I was ecstatic that real TV and radio sports analysts appeared in the premiere as it added another realistic element to the drama and would, in reality, be an enormous and highly debated spectacle.
I expected most of the dialogue to be very cliche and predictable as most can imagine how male teammates would react to having the only female in the league as their teammate.
I was pleasantly surprised by the script as each conversation was realistic and original, especially Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s character Mike Lawson. Gosselaar plays catcher for the team and develops immediate chemistry with Ginny, despite smacking her butt as an act of endearment.
At some points in the show, specifically when the ball is crossing the plate, the special effects were very unrealistic and made me question the development of the actual game of baseball in the show. However, this dissatisfaction was very minor overall.
Initially, the show seemed to be lacking in meaning and purpose aside from the expected fight for equal rights and opportunities for all genders and races, but multiple layers are revealed late in the episode when the plot takes an unexpected turn.
Up until the point of Ginny’s flashback of a car accident she and her dad were in when she was in high school, Mr. Baker played a huge role in the show motivating Ginny to reach her full potential. Whether it was teaching her to throw a screwball to set herself apart or demanding that she throw pitch after pitch, Billy just wanted to ensure his daughter’s success.
Unfortunately, Ginny’s dad never gets to watch her pitch in the major’s as we learn in the last minutes of the episode that he was thrown from the car in the accident and died that night.
As long as coming episodes reveal the plot chronologically with the exception of flashbacks, the show could become a huge hit for all genders and races and especially fans of baseball.
I highly recommend it to all as it is not just a statement of feminism, but a comedic, yet tear-jerking drama sure to inspire dreamers everywhere.
The next episode will air on Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. on Fox.