Kylie Bunbury gives ‘Pitch’ the right groove

PITCH: L-R: Dan Lauria, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Kylie Bunbury in PITCH coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw / FOX

BEVERLY HILLS, CA-It’s showtime for Fox Television show “Pitch,” an introduction into the future examination on the possibility of a woman integrating Major League Baseball. There’s been plenty of word of mouth buzz and tons of advertisement around the new series.

From all accounts, it’s been pretty strong in a good way.

Most of the hype centers on the fictional character Ginny Baker, who not only makes a play of being the female equivalent to the great Jackie Robinson, but actually has the nerve to play the Alpha Dog role of pitcher.  This sounds like great must-see television theater.

With that said, actress Kylie Bunbury, who had parts in “Twisted” and the miniseries “Tut,” plays the grown-up version of Baker, who is  on the verge of making history.  During Fox’s Summer TCA Press Tour where the network unveiled its slew of fall shows, Bunbury, fellow cast members and others associated with the series, shared their thoughts on what “Pitch” means.

The delightfully beautiful Bunbury, for a few brief moments, shared her thoughts on being part of the show.

“I’m trying not to focus on the sex appeal of the being the first woman in baseball,” Bunbury said. “I really just want to be a ballplayer and be the best ballplayer I can be, and just being one of the guys.”

Fitting in as one of the guys probably comes naturally for Bunbury.  Her father, Alex Bubury, played professional soccer. Teal Bunbury, her brother, is now himself a professional soccer player.

“I grew up with brothers,” Bunbury said. “So I very easily get along with men. I grew up more as a tomboy, a tomboy who wore dresses.”

Actress Kylie Bunbury at the Los Angeles premiere of "Pitch." Photo by Dennis J. Freeman
Actress Kylie Bunbury at the Los Angeles premiere of “Pitch.” Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

That experience made it a bit easier for Bunbury to mimic the type of discipline that pro athletes have, she said.

“When I first started acting, I did it purely based off of instinct,” Bunbury said. “I hadn’t taken any acting classes, and I talked to my brother on the phone one day and he said, ‘Kylie, when I became pro, I didn’t stop training. I trained every day.’ And that really stuck with me.

“And so I said I need a foundation, and once I have that foundation I need to keep building on that. So I work hard every day, and that sometimes means me missing out on social events…I have such a high respect for my brother as an athlete…the amount of work, and determination and mental strength he has to have is incredible.”

Playing the role of a baseball player is one thing. Emulating the routine of a pitcher is quite another. Bunbury said she worked on a couple of pitches specifically to make her role believable. Her fastball looks pretty good, she said.

“I’m pretty proud of my fastball,” said Bunbury. “I can throw a curveball, but it is not as accurate and I don’t have the velocity like I do with my fastball. But I think my fastball is not too shabby. Greg Olsen is the pitcher I am working with. He’s a former pitcher and he used to pitch for the (Los Angeles) Dodgers, and he said I’m around 55 (mile per hour). I’m not as fast as Ginny, by any means. But I’ve only had a few months to learn. So I’m pretty proud of my speed.”

Actress Kylie Bunbury said she likes the way she has been able to master throwing the fastball in her role as Ginny Baker in "Pitch." Photo by Dennis J. Freeman
Actress Kylie Bunbury said she likes the way she has been able to master throwing the fastball in her role as Ginny Baker in “Pitch.” Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

In trying to blend her athleticism with her acting chops, Bunbury, who never played baseball before her lead role in “Pitch,” said it was challenging.

“It really lends itself because I’m so emerged in this world,” Bunbury said. “So all the themes…they work together nicely. It is difficult. I’ve been in acting class for three years now. I do have that stuff down. I do have the emotional side of things down. My focus is to be as authentic as possible and that has been the most challenging thing.”

It’s pretty interesting that Bunbury won out the role for Ginny Baker. She was not even a baseball or softball fan. Now that she has been submerged into the sport of baseball through her thespian side, Bunbury has grown to appreciate the sport.

“Before this, I was never a huge baseball or softball fan at all,” said Bunbury. “Soccer was always No. 1. I have completely fallen in love with the sport. It’s such a mental game; I never realized it before. And what’s so funny, I was just messaging some of my friends who used played softball and said ‘Wow, I have such huge respect for you.’ I never noticed it before.”

Some people have already drawn the conclusion that “Pitch” is a simple ode to Mo’ne Davis, the young black female pitcher who took the Little League World Series by storm a couple of years ago. It is not, Bunbury said.

“A lot people are asking is this a story about Mone Davis,” Bunbury said. “It’s not. But I think she definitely opened the door up a little wider for us to have this story. She’s incredible. I’m hoping someday to meet her. I’m trying to get her on the show.”

As far as being a real-life heroine to thousands or possible millions of female fans, Bunbury is no doubt flattered by the acknowledgement.

“My focus is just being a good actor and being the best person I can be,” Bunbury said. “I’m trying not to get caught up in all this other stuff. It is very different. I do feel like I have a responsibility to empower women, to inspire them. Not just women, just anyone who has a dream-to tell them that you don’t need to forgo your dreams. You can achieve them and you can be any size, shape, gender and creed. Whatever it is, you can do it. I’m just really proud of this show. It has a lot of heart.”

As for the show itself, Bunbury is proud to be part of the finished product.

“This show is very current,” said Bunbury. “We’re talking about current events. There’s a case where a young guy had raped a young woman. It is something that people want Jenny Baker to discuss. I’m living in a man’s world. What does she say about that? It is a very current show, which I think is really great. When you look back at shows from different decades and you’re like, ‘Wow! That was so of that time.’ That is what this show is as well. ”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1057 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.