When I was six, I started swimming competitively. And I was good – it’s one of the very few things in my life I’ve ever really been truly confident about. I was a good swimmer, and I worked hard – really hard. It would take up most of my time, energy, and I had a passion for it unlike anything else in my life. I broke my body over and over, sometimes my mind, too, and I loved it.
And yet, I’d be reminded through the years that, no matter how hard I worked, no matter how hard I trained, boys would still be faster. Every medal, trophy, and record, it was still in the back of my mind, what I’d be told by even the most supportive people in my corner who seemed to mean well.
It’s just biology.
When I was a little older, I started to play softball in a local league during the spring and early summer. It was a relatively new league, stemming from an interest in it and the high volume of girls playing in the baseball league. In those first few years, the softball league was its own, completely separate league. We barely had any funding, could hardly afford shirts, enough balls, bats, the like.
The baseball league, dominated by the boys, naturally was swimming in funds, comparatively. It felt like they were telling us – the boy’s matter more, they play harder; they’re better. That they deserved it more than we did, that people cared more to sponsor them.
Growing up, the sports movies, even shows…as girls, we had less representation of ourselves as athletes. A character here or there, tossed in as “one of the boys,” sure. We treasured movies like “A League of Their Own” and “Stick It.” We clung to Disney Channel Original movies galore that seemed to do it, but by and large, the sports movies went to the boys. No matter how much I loved them – and there are many (“Remember The Titans,” “The Mighty Ducks,” “Miracle” and even “Space Jam” come to mind) – they weren’t really showing us, you know?
Ginny Baker is the character we’ve sorely needed.
Now, we have that. We have Ginny Baker, the MLB’s first female pitcher, shattering that glass ceiling with a coolness that most of us couldn’t pull off on our best days – even if her nerves very much exist. She’s jumping into a boys’ game, and the world is watching – for better or for worse. Ginny is a role model, whether she wants it or not.
She may have just come to play ball, but to millions of little girls – both onscreen and offscreen – she means a whole lot more.
She’s playing hard, playing with the boys, and she’s got this attitude and determination to be part of this team and this world. She’s tough. From what we can tell, her father, played by Michael Beach, is hard on her – he won’t accept anything less than her best, and a lot of us have been there, too, with parents and coaches who’ve pushed us to the brink, who’ve demanded everything from us and then some (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse).
Blood, sweat and tears, and all that.
So, yeah, I’m ready for this. Give me a sports hero story about a girl – Lord knows there’re too many real ones that get overlooked as it is. Give me a story about a female MLB pitcher, and make the story about her being a pitcher, who happens to be female. Let us see her struggle and be real, but overcome. I want to see her bond with the team, become part of the family, and give me all the good feelings of the great sports stories we know and love.
Because little girls are watching, and Ginny Baker’s story is real, to them. To us.
That and, well, we could use a sports show, again.
Listen, it’s been awhile, okay?
Friday Night Lights ended more than five years ago, and One Tree Hill not too long after that. Long gone are the days of Sports Night and Coach.
And even then, they weren’t really shows about female athletes, were they? Or even pro athletes? Moreover, as far as I can remember, have we ever had a real baseball-centric TV show aside from Eastbound and Down?
Maybe I’m a little biased, in a weird way – I’m from Boston, and here, we live and breathe sports. Our athletes are our gods, and Fenway Park is my favorite place of worship in this whole city. So, yeah. I’m ready for a baseball show with some added drama, and I’m ready for a show about the players and the game, and the behind the scenes of Major League Baseball – PR, agents, the whole bit. I want to see how Ginny, both as a rookie and a female, integrates with the team, and hell, we could all use a good team story again, right?
(Bring on the inspiration.)
Let’s talk about this cast.
Seriously, Pitch brings the talent. A perfectly balance dugout of rookies and veterans. Kylie Bunbury may still be relatively new to the screen, but she’s not far off from Rookie of the Year herself.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays Padres’ catcher and team captain Mike Lawson – and he’s a far cry from Zack Morris. (Think grumpier, older, gruffer, a little less charming, and a dose of more sarcasm.) Michael Beach, known for “Lean On Me,” “Third Watch,” “Sons of Anarchy” and most recently “The 100,” brings power as Ginny’s pushy father. Ali Larter of “Varsity Blues” and “Legally Blonde” fame brings to life Amelia Slater, Ginny’s agent and one of the only (first?) women to do so, bringing the lady power from all sides. Mo McRae, known best for “Sons of Anarchy,” “Thirteen” and “Gridiron Gang” stars as fellow Padres player Blip, and an old, good friend of Ginny’s – which she needs.
The list goes on, and the chemistry is there. Everyone’s bringing their A game, and you don’t want to miss it.
Check out the premiere of “Pitch” this Thursday, September 22 at 9/8c on FOX.