Review: Female is called up to major league in ‘Pitch’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

“Pitch” has a simple enough premise: It follows the first female player in major league baseball.

Interesting. But what do you do with it?

That’s the question that lingers over this new Fox show, which is undoubtedly timely but also seems somewhat dramatically limited. To its credit, the show is as much about misogyny and instant celebrity as it is about baseball, but that seems unlikely to bring in baseball fans. And will non-fans find enough here to pull them in?

But let’s let “Pitch” step up to the plate and swing away. Heaven knows America needs to acknowledge the unequal treatment of women, and if this show opens even a few eyes, that will be a good thing.

Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, just being called up from the minors to start at pitcher for the San Diego Padres. Just the fact that she’s been called up has made her an overnight sensation, and she’s hired a high-powered manager (Ali Larter, in her usual fierce mode) to handle the crowds, the press conferences, the request for magazine covers.

In flashbacks we learn that Ginny has been coached and prodded her whole life by her baseball-obsessed father (veteran actor Michael Beach), We see her wow at the Little League level, then win a state championship in college, which brings a scout from the Padres.

Unfortunately, when she gets to the majors, she finds hordes of women and young girls fighting for her autograph, living vicariously through her, crowding the stands and offering up distracting adulation. It’s rattling, to say the least.

Also less than ideal is her status in the locker room. Most of the male players resent and reject her; she’s thought of as a gimmick being used to draw big crowds (which she does). The team captain and catcher (a grizzled-looking Mark-Paul Gosselaar) talks trash about her behind her back to calm the troops. What’s a girl to do?

Persevere, obviously. But that’s easier said than done. The series wisely looks at the isolation that’s resulted from Ginny’s single-minded pursuit of baseball. She doesn’t have girlfriends and now she’s the only person in history who’s been in her position. Pressure much?

Whether “Pitch” eventually knocks it out of the park or strikes out, it paints an intriguing picture of what could be. The question is, can that picture go nine innings?

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.



9 p.m. Wednesday

Fox (Channel 2)