September 23, 2016

Anna Wyckoff

Quite often, the first task of a Costume Designer is to research the subject. This process can take weeks or months, and sometimes, even years. For the new television series Pitch on FOX, Linda Bass has had a lifetime of preparation. “My father was a huge baseball fan and he had three daughters, so he instilled this passion in us,” she says. “I’ve always been a baseball fan, but have been kind of quiet about it, and now I’m working on a project where I can openly discuss it with everybody I work with. It’s what made me really excited when I read the pilot, and it’s what excites me every single day when I come to work.”

Pitch follows Ginny Baker’s (Kylie Bunbury) rise as the first woman in Major League Baseball, and all the excitement and drama that surrounds the momentous event. Bass points out that the general public doesn’t realize that major league players are celebrities, with crowds clamoring to catch a glimpse of them. She explains, “As a kid I used to wait outside of Dodger Stadium at the player’s entrance to see them when they came out. They are really conscious of what they wear in public—they dress sort of like rock stars in their world.”

MLB rules dictate that when a player is on the field, it is preferred that they wear team colors. As a result, Bass uses an abundance of navy, grey, and white, the colors of the Padres team Baker plays for. In the civilian world, Bass focuses her attention on other shades. However, she likes to root all of her design in reality. “I always make every costume decision based on the script we’re doing right then. I don’t think you can have a color palette that works throughout a whole season and have it look real. I always want every show I do to ring really true. I don’t like to grandstand with costumes, that’s really important for me. Costumes are only meant to help the story.”

Bass gives Baker’s personal costumes a tomboy flare. In contrast, Baker’s manager Amelia Slater (Ali Larter) has deep roots in Hollywood and dresses with panache. With Slater’s guidance, Baker wears fashion forward looks for all public appearances. However, they make her uncomfortable and add an element of tension. For Baker’s catcher, Mike Lawson (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Bass reveals the character’s awareness of his audience through his clothing: just the right jeans, boots, and hip leather jacket. The only time Lawson relaxes is at home, out of the public eye. Bass also carefully dresses the supporting cast in present day and in flashbacks, with an emphasis on creating consistent and distinctive personal style.

Pitch has a different director each week, thus Bass’ vision for the characters is an important through line. She relishes the dialogue this creates. Bass remarks, “Because I worked on How to Get Away With Murder, everybody says, ‘You don’t know how to get away with murder anymore.’ And I always say, ‘I put my knife down and picked up my cleats.’ Pitch is much more fun, it’s lighter, and has a real heart-warming touch to it that I haven’t done in a really long time. It makes your going to work every day a little different when you do something that is just really positive.”

Pitch airs Thursdays at 9/8c on FOX.

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