New series a perfect 'Pitch' for MLB

FOX drama about 1st woman to play in big leagues to debut Thursday

New series a perfect 'Pitch' for MLB

LOS ANGELES -- From on-air promos to in-stadium billboards to network road shows, FOX is enthusiastic about "Pitch," the series that debuts Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET, and so is Major League Baseball.

"Pitch" is a fictional drama about the first woman to play in the big leagues. Actress Kylie Bunbury plays Ginny Baker, who broke through baseball's glass ceiling as a pitcher for the San Diego Padres. MLB has allowed the network unique access of club uniforms, filming in Petco Park and Dodger Stadium, and the league has provided consultants to ensure a sense of authenticity.

"We are excited to be partnering with FOX on this show," said Chris Tully, MLB executive vice president of media. "We are always looking to attract new fans and to connect with existing fans in new ways, so we absolutely embraced the opportunity to showcase our sport via a primetime entertainment program on the FOX network. With MLB serving as the backdrop to the storyline, 'Pitch' is really about Ginny's journey and her challenges and achievements along the way. We expect the show to appeal to a very broad audience that extends beyond avid fans."

Broadening baseball's reach to a larger female audience would be a welcome outcome.

"The stars really aligned on this project," said Tully. "It not only presented us with the opportunity to extend our relationship with our longstanding partner, FOX, but with the story focusing on the first young woman to play in MLB, the theme of the show fits perfectly with MLB's important efforts in the areas of inclusion and diversity. The show extends our reach and strengthens the relationship with our fans. And just as the show's presentation of MLB as the backdrop to the story is authentic as far as the uniforms and equipment used, it is also entirely authentic in reflecting the consistent efforts of MLB teams to put the most talented players in the world out on the field regardless of their background."

The pedigree of the series production team is pure big league. Dan Fogelman ("Cars," "Crazy, Stupid Love") and Rick Singer ("Younger") are co-creators and executive producers. Emmy Award winner Kevin Falls ("Journeyman," "Franklin & Bash," "The West Wing"), Academy Award winner Tony Bill ("The Sting," "Taxi Driver"), Helen Bartlett ("Untamed Heart," "A Home of Our Own," "North Country") and Jess Rosenthal are also executive producers. Emmy Award winner Paris Barclay ("EMPIRE," "Sons of Anarchy," "The Good Wife," "CSI") serves as director and executive producer.

"The concept is about a woman coming of age in the world of baseball, with the lens of the world watching her," said Fogelman. "I think the right young woman is going to come along, and I think it's going to happen sooner rather than later. When it happens, that young woman will become the biggest story in the country overnight. The amount of tension and eyeballs on her every move is interesting drama. Maybe I'm naïve, but who would be against this?"

Former Major Leaguers Gregg Olson, Chad Kreuter, C.J. Nitkowski and Royce Clayton are among those coaching the actors on baseball technique.

"Her mechanics are solid," Olson said of Bunbury. "You wouldn't know she's an actress."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.