Kylie Bunbury is magnetic.
She draws viewers in from the moment she appears onscreen as Ginny Baker, the first female MLB player, all the way through to the closing credits on the new Fox drama Pitch, which premieres Thursday night.
That’s because Bunbury, 27, has all the swagger, strength and vulnerability a trailblazer of this magnitude would have. Ginny is the grown up Mo’ne Davis and the female Jackie Robinson and even wears the Number 43. Get it?
But for as inspiring and heartwarming as this story is, Pitch works in large part because the Canadian actress (Twisted and Under the Dome) is so likeable and believable. Bunbury’s Black Girl Magic isn’t the only motivation to tune in. Here are four more reasons this show hits it out of the park:
The cast: Much like her character Ginny, Bunbury is a relative newcomer who gains strength from the veterans around her. The list includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Saved By the Bell), who plays the team’s catcher and voice of reason, and Dan Lauria (Wonder Years) who costars as the team’s manager. Michael Beach (Soul Food) does an incredible job as Ginny’s hard-driving dad and Ali Larter (Heroes) shines as Ginny’s no-nonsense agent Amelia. Viewers should also look out for noteworthy performances from Corinne Massiah as a young Ginny, Tim Jo (The Neighbors) as Ginny’s social media promoter and Mo McRae (Empire) as one of Ginny’s few allies on the team.
The Authenticity: It sure would be awesome if this story were true but alas, there are no women MLB players in real life. This doesn’t stop Fox and the producers behind Pitch from making the show feel as genuine as possible. For starters, Ginny plays for the San Diego Padres, a legitimate MLB team. Meanwhile, real MLB commentators such as Joe Buck and John Smoltz guest star as versions of themselves delivering play-by-play for the game. What is even more impressive is that Bunbury is learning how to pitch like a pro from conditioning coaches. She even has to ice her shoulder between takes. Talk about method acting.
The Father-Daughter Relationship: The life-affirming bond between Black fathers and daughters is rarely seen and celebrated on the small screen. And no, Scandal doesn’t count. This is one of the reasons the relationship between Ginny and her father Bill (Beach) is so paramount on Pitch. Bill is a former baseball player determined to break the sport’s glass ceiling by turning his daughter into the groundbreaking athlete he knows she can be. A cross between Tiger’s dad Earl Woods and Richard Williams, Serena and Venus’ father, Bill is no joke and does some over-the-top things to make his daughter great – and it works. But the unflinching connection between the two through good times and bad will have you reaching for the Kleenex.
The Social Message: The fact that Ginny is a Black woman makes the story behind Pitch that much stronger and relatable. Viewers need a show like this not only because it is a fresh idea but it’s told from a perspective that’s never been explored on primetime television. Ginny isn’t a doctor or a cop or a political fixer. She’s an athlete who is changing the game on the screen and in our living rooms.
Pitch premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.