Rory asks her dad to accompany her to a local softball game that Dean is playing in. Luke is a player on the opposing side, meaning that Stars Hollow has at least two softball teams! This episode provides another inside-joke by alluding to Scott Patterson’s professional baseball career – he was a baseball pitcher in real life, and also the pitcher at the softball game in this episode.
Softball is a variant of baseball, played with a larger bat on a smaller field. It was invented in Chicago in 1887, giving it a connection with Dean’s home town. It’s a popular sport for amateurs as it can be adapted to almost any skill level, and the rules can be changed to suit the circumstances (in Stars Hollow, the rules are almost Wonderland-level – they stop when they get tired, and the first team to get even one run wins). The softball season usually begins in February, so this game is relatively early in the season.
Pitcher: During the baseball scene Luke is the “pitcher”, meaning he is is the one pitching balls to the opposing team’s batter.
On-deck circle: When the softball scene opens, Dean is standing in the “on-deck circle”, the area where a player stands when they are next up to bat.
Strikeout: The batter ahead of Dean “strikes out” by failing to hit the ball three times in a row. Luke notes that he is the second member of Dean’s team to do so.
Fielders: The players on the non-batting team who aren’t pitching spread out in order to catch the ball, thus potentially catching the batter “out”. When it is Dean’s turn to bat, he suggests that Luke sends his “boys a little further into the field”. He means that he is planning to hit the ball a long way, so that the fielders on Luke’s team had better get further out onto the field.
Whiffing: Luke suggests that the only reason his fielders would need to get further out is so they can get a better view of Dean “whiffing”. In baseball and softball, whiffing means to swing at the ball without hitting it – in other words, to strike out.
The softball scenes were filmed at the Hartunian Baseball Field in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area in Encino, Los Angeles. You can see some very un-Stars Hollow-like homes overlooking the field, which are in Encino Village.