The Story of Fox’s ‘PITCH’ Is Nothing New

The Story of Fox’s ‘PITCH’ Is Nothing New

The Fox series is wrapping up its first season, but perhaps you’ve heard this story before.

For the past several weeks, Fox’s new hit series “PITCH” has shown us that it is possible for a woman to continue smashing through the glass ceiling in a male-dominated world—bat, beauty, and brains in hand.

The series tells the story of Ginny (Kylie Bunbury), a woman with beauty, brains and athleticism, who is groomed by her now-deceased father to play Major League Baseball. During the first season, we have seen Ginny become not only the first female Major League Baseball player for the San Diego Padres, but the best, and this is all done in her father’s honor who’s mantra was, “We ain’t done nothing yet.”

For the past several weeks, “PITCH” has shed light on a variety of challenges that affect women everywhere, particularly women of color. These challenges include the ability to simultaneously balance being an athlete, a responsible feminist, and evolving brand. In fact, many would argue that women—namely Black women—are constantly forced to prove their worth and abilities in our society, and this ever-present theme is reflected in the first several episodes of “PITCH.”

Fortunately for the show’s main character, she has allies in the dugout who protect her honor by making her an exemplary player, regardless of the blatant undermining sexism. And, although “PITCH” presents an exciting concept in the world of fiction, Ginny’s rise to fame as a fictional character isn’t as far from reality as you may think. Let’s travel back and take a closer look at the untold story of Toni Stone.

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Dirt in the Skirt

Toni Stone made history in 1953 when she became the first female player in Negro League baseball. Stone, who was born Marcenia Lyle Stone, also played for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League—although segregated—and several Negro League teams.

And, although she negotiated her pay and established how she wanted to be treated as a professional athlete, Stone’s notoriety has dissipated into American history. This is drastically different from the stories of some of her white counterparts as portrayed in the 1990’s blockbuster A League of Their Own. However, her legacy lives on in both fiction and non-fiction black, professional, female athletes by inspiring us all to say, “I am next.”

Shot Caller

Outside of its brilliant soundtrack and incredible writing, “PITCH” embraces the spirit of women empowerment and the unsung legacy of Stone with a main character who calls the shots. Even though Ginny receives guidance from her agent she also takes charge of her own life.

Instead of allowing people to tell her how to play the game, she decides how she wants to play the game and she plays to win. However, like Stone, Ginny is quite literally a team player and heeds the advice of her teammates to be the best against all odds.

No Crying in Baseball

As the story progresses Ginny becomes more and more like “one of the guys” and a true member of the team, with all of the baseball politics in tow. Ginny is very aware of how uncomfortable the atmosphere is with the novelty and jealousy, but she takes it in stride.

Like the real-life Toni Stone, Ginny is steadfast in her strength and keeps playing the game when adversity strikes her or the team. It was not easy to get her onto the mound, but all season long, she has been knocking it out of the park and captivating audiences everywhere. Most have never heard the story of Toni Stone, but thanks to both fictional and non-fiction female athletes like Ginny, her unsung legacy lives on. We ain’t done nothin’ yet!

The “PITCH” season finale airs Thursday, December 8, at 9/8c.

Mo’ne Davis Pitching Inspiration

Mo’ne Davis Pitching Inspiration

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Mo’ne Davis (Photo Credit: People Magazine)

Mo’ne Davis has reached national prominence on the baseball field this summer. While most boys pitch in the high 50s or low 60s, she throws at 70 mph. Her skills have helped her team, the Philadelphia Taney Dragons, go undefeated thus far in the World Series in Williamsport, PA. Although she is currently recognized as the best in the little league, Davis says she doesn’t really like when the media places all of its attention on her. “I wouldn’t have made it this far without my teammates,” she says. According to WSJ, when asked post-game by ESPN how she handles excessive media fascination, she said, “I can always say no.”

As one of two girls in the World Series this year, Davis dominates the score boards. On Friday night, she became the first female pitcher to throw a shutout (the act by which a single pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow the opposing team to score a run) in the Little League post season, and struck out 8 batters on Sunday. Her stepfather says, “She was pitching one day and someone hit a home run off of her, so she felt she needed to work on it more. And from there, it got to this point.” (NPR)

ESPN interviewed parents about how they view girls in baseball and most parents found it empowering for girls to be seen as just as good as boys on the playing field. One skeptical father of a middle school girl said that girls can get hurt by playing with boys. Yolanda Washington, two seats down from him, disagreed and said if her daughter “had the skills,” she would support her in baseball. “I’m excited that as an African-American girl, (my daughter) sees another African-American girl doing something so unique and positive.

If Davis continues down this path, she could definitely wind up in the actual World Series, having been compared to Philadelphia Phillies Jonathan Papelbon and Atlanta’s Ervin Santana. However, Davis plays other sports and has dreams of playing point guard at the University of Connecticut and of making it to the WNBA.

Regardless of the opinions of parents, and whatever she decides to play in the future, it is evident that Mo’ne is a role model for her generation and other little girls that might want to pursue a career in a sport that is normally considered a “male” sport.

An 11-year-old gymnast and Phillies fan who traveled from New Jersey to Philadelphia with her father to watch Davis play says she doesn’t seem stuck up, but just a girl with great confidence. “Mo’ne would be my role model if I was on a baseball team. She would be my role model even in general.” (ESPNW)

Give Me Your Feet: A Maundy Thursday Reflection

Give Me Your Feet: A Maundy Thursday Reflection

Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday, and I am thinking of that night so long ago. I am putting myself in the scene, this soul-weary, overweight, middle-aged black woman who needs Jesus with everything in me. In my mind I am there with the disciples. I am present with my Jesus. You are there, too. Can you see it? The upper room in the drafty edifice, us stumbling in exhausted. We are starving. It’s just before the Passover Feast. So much has happened. So much will happen.

We gather together for a simple supper. Even Jesus has a kind of weight-of-the-world weariness about him. He’s talked a lot about going away lately, but he is fully present now, and his love has arms that hold us close. Still, a sadness lingers in his eyes. It reminds me of how the poet prophet Isaiah describes him, as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

The table is set, and we recline where we’re seated, grateful to be with him. Our cups are lined like guards before us, full of wine. A basket of bread lies in the center of the table. Later he will tell us the wine is his blood poured out, and the bread his body broken. Later. Now we sit. Night, as thick and palpable as fog, surrounds us. The flames on the candles bow and rise in the breezy room, as if they too, worship our Lord.

Then Jesus sets aside his outer garments and dons an apron like a slave would wear. He pours water in a basin. We exchange puzzled looks.

“Give me your feet,” he says.

We are stunned silent, each of us carefully removing our sandals, unsure of what to say–what to do–faced with such shocking humility. Foot washing is the worst of tasks, despised by a servants gesture. Yet Jesus kneels before us, one by one, and washes our feet. I watch Him move from person to person. Dear God, Jesus is on His knees, pouring water on our rough soles. The Son of God, the Son of Man, washes us as if the pitcher contains, then releases, his own tears. The water slips between our toes, and the filth of the world falls to the ground, ground now hallowed by His presence. We couldn’t help but feel emotional. Some of us wailed as he worked.

He sure knows how to make a mess of things.

When he gets to me I choke out his name, “Oh, Jesus,” I cry. Hot salty tears roll from my cheeks, and drop onto Jesus’ hand as he reaches up to wipe my face. “Master, let me wash yours,” I beg him.

He gently, but firmly refuses me. “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will after this,” he says to me.

“I can’t let you wash my feet,” I say.

He speaks kindly to me. “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be a part of what I’m doing.” So I let him wash me, my Jesus, dressed as a slave, as I sit there, amazed.

He cleanses us all, every one of us. “Do you understand what I have done to you?” he asks. His brown eyes shine in the candlelight. “You address me as ‘Teacher,’ ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. A servant is not ranked above His master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.”

Act like it, and live a blessed life.

Jesus makes things so messy, and then sets them right with such a simple, homely message, but it is good news. When he is done with you, you are washed as white as snow.

It wasn’t too long after that last meal that he left us, only to return in three days, and go again, leaving us with his Holy Spirit. As I reflect on that day, I hear the sound of His voice, resonate, yet soft, and feel His breath warm on my face, as he leaned into me and asked me, ‘give me your feet.’

I think of this every Maundy Thursday, as we world weary travelers, parched and, hurting, and oh so vulnerable, gather. We are looking for Jesus, needing water, and trusting our souls, and soles to his servants. Sometimes we sit shoulder to shoulder reclined. Waiting. Humbled. Remembering. And our feet are washed clean, while God’s slave cradles them in the circle of his tear-stained hands.

Scripture references taken from Isaiah. 53:3, NKJV and John 13:12-17, The Message.