The show’s lead actress, Kylie Bunbury, who played the role of Ginny Baker, took to Instagram last week to pen a grateful letter to fans, thanking them for their love and support.
“My heart is heavy,” she writes in the post. “Pitch will not be returning. I don’t have some eloquently thought out caption, because I’m still processing it all. Ginny Baker has profoundly changed my life and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to play a role that resonated with so many people…Thank you to all of the fans who took the journey with us! Your support and love for the show has always moved us deeply! I love you all. Ginny Baker out.”
The show followed Bunbury, a new pitcher for the San Diego Padres, and the first woman to play in Major League Baseball. The series tackled different themes and tropes surrounding the glass ceiling for women in a male dominated industry, especially for a Black woman. In reality, Black women earn just earn 63 cents to every White man’s dollar. Non-Hispanic White men make up the largest segment of the workforce in America.
For her part, the fictional Baker had to navigate the world as “one of the guys”, and prove herself a capable athlete who was not merely a spectacle. She also had to juggle the sexual objectification of her Black body, and her responsibility as a singular role model for women and girls. Baker was a complex TV representation of the “have to be twice as good to get half as far” maxim within both African American and women’s oral histories.
Though people have different opinions about why the show failed, Major League Baseball’s lack of marketing and promotion for Pitch is still odd, especially as it was an historic show and season.
Born and raised in Chicago, I was ecstatic when the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. But as I watched my home team clinch the pennant, I vividly remember being confused that of all the World Series game, I can only recall seeing one commercial for Pitch.
The show struggled to find an audience–competed with Thursday-night football, Chicago Med, and Shonda Rimes’ How to Get Away With Murder. But it’s interesting to note that other shows with lesser ratings are still on the air. This is indicative of the higher standards shows with Black, and especially Black women leads are held. For Fox, Pitch had to be a clear home run to justify its continuation. It also raises questions about the popularity of shows that do not depict Black women behaving in the best light.
Pitch was a great representation of how far we should have come by now in terms of racial and gender politics. Ginny Baker’s story showcased the conflicting experiences Black women athletes face because of their multi-layered identities–being Black but not a man, being a woman but not White, and wanting to be “just” an athlete, but having to be a role model. In many ways, her story is a combination of tennis champion Serena Williams and former Little League Baseball pitcher Mo’Ne Davis from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
As a complex and humanizing depiction of the Black female professional athletes, I’m sad to see Pitch go, but hope to see something like it again soon.
Joshua Adams is a writer and arts & culture journalist from Chicago. His writings often explain current and historical cultural phenomena through personal narratives – @JournoJoshua