A spate of injuries brought Alex Bentley to the realization that his dream of playing professional baseball wasn’t in the cards. But that’s when the gregarious former film-and-TV student at San Diego City College decided if he couldn’t be a real Major Leaguer, he’d play one on TV.
His baseball-themed scripted series On Deck is in development and will feature cameos by legit pros, including San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatís Jr.
“Fernando was as good as any professional actor we had on set,” says Bentley. A lifelong Padres fan who played in the Lake Murray Little League and internationally for Team Israel, he says that in an off-season workout he once caught Joe Musgrove, the future Padres pitcher who’d be the first in team history to toss a no-hitter.
How did Bentley land Tatís for the series? “I reached out to him on Instagram,” he says, laughing. “Fernando replied, ‘I’m listening.’ And it worked.”
Bentley also took advantage of Major League Baseball holding its 2019 Winter Meeting at the Hilton Bayfront in downtown San Diego. He crashed the meeting and got longtime Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones (Morse High School), Gold Glove second baseman and MLB Network / Fox Sports commentator Harold Reynolds, baseball super-agent Scott Boras, and Olympic star and pro softball pitcher Jennie Finch all to film cameos for On Deck.
When Bentley was a catcher on a City College team, he was equally enticed by baseball and acting. He landed a speaking role in the short-lived Fox TV series Pitch, which told the fictional story of the Padres signing the first woman to be a full-time MLB pitcher.
As both the writer and creator of On Deck, he’s striving for authenticity. “I want all the baseball scenes to be based on reality,” he says. “I want fans and insiders to say, ‘Yes, that’s really how it is.’”
Slated to direct the pilot is Ser’Darius Blain (who acted in the two most recent Jumanji movies). The initial plotline focuses on young players trying to get called up to Major League teams. Athletes dealing with aches and pains face an ethical dilemma when enticed to take advantage of cutting-edge technology that can eliminate injuries.
“I want this show to be a conversation starter,” Bentley says. “We’ll tackle issues that are current events in the game, and in society. And we’ll do it with authenticity.”
The series is still in development. Bentley says he’s pitching it to cable and network outlets, and believes he’s already been seeded with enough investment capital to ensure independent production. San Diegans can get their first look at Bentley’s hosted red carpet screening on May 13, downtown; follow updates at ondeckseries.com or on Instagram at ondeckseries and alexbentley.