FOX’s Newest Show “Pitch,” Other Fictional Firsts Pave Way for Social Change

Want to change the world? Start with a TV show.

Try describing the plot to FOX’s new show Pitch to a friend. “It’s about the first woman to play major league baseball,” you’ll say.

“There’s a woman playing major league baseball?” they’ll reply.

There isn’t— not yet, at least— but that’s the genius of Pitch, which airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. It’s a fictional show that depicts a “first” that hasn’t happened in real life, and starts a national discussion on changing the status quo.

This way, the ball gets rolling and when the first female MLB player does come along, the world won’t be quite so shocked.

“It plants an idea in people’s heads that it can actually happen,” said senior agricultural resource economics major and softball pitcher, Hannah Dewey. “There are some shows that have technology that doesn’t seem like it’s going to exist and then five, 10 years later it does. I think it’s a similar concept. It’s not… so far-fetched that it seems completely out of reach.”

A black man starring on The Bachelor and an openly gay Republican White House chief of staff: those are two concepts unheard of in real life as well. But in Lifetime’s UnREAL and ABC’s Scandal, respectively, they’re two key storylines.

Maybe they won’t spark a sudden movement of black Bachelors or gay Republican politicians, but they do spark conversations.

Jeff Perry (right) as Cyrus Beene. (Photo by Ron Tom - © 2012 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)
Jeff Perry (right) as Cyrus Beene. (Photo by Ron Tom – © 2012 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)

“Sometimes… people get wrapped up so much in how to word a question that they end up not asking it and then no one learns,” said sophomore finance major Josh Herman. Herman, a member of the University of Maryland College Republicans Club, is gay. “By pushing [these characters] into your homes, they are allowing the uncomfortable-ness to be absorbed by the TV, instead of by whoever wants to ask the question.”

When the time does finally come for a woman to join one of the four major professional sports leagues, or an openly-gay Republican to work in a prominent position in the White House, or a black man to star on The Bachelor, these concepts won’t be so foreign to us. We will already have had honest and often difficult conversations about gender, sexuality and race.

“I think you need [to] allow people the opportunity to learn and know where they’re coming from instead of just wanting them to accept something without understanding why they don’t, or why they’re having trouble with that,” Herman said.

BJ Britt (center) starred as football player-turned reality TV star Darius Hill in season two of Unreal. (Credit: Lifetime)

In a recent Entertainment Weekly article, Pitch creators shared how the production team emphasized making the setting as realistic as possible: the locker room set was designed to look like the actual San Diego Padres’ locker room, lead actress Kylie Bunbury trained with professional pitchers and co-creator Dan Fogelman even met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for advice on how to make the show authentic.

And that all further helps prove that not only is the series’ premise something that could happen, it’s something that should. 

“It’s America’s pastime but it’s always been dominated by men,” Dewey said. “I think it’s for sure a step in the right direction.”


Feature photo credit: Tommy Garcia/FOX