I pitched in a baseball game tonight.

Yeah, you read that correctly: I pitched, played outfield, was an alternate catcher, and even batted. But mostly I just pitched.

Sure, it was held in a tucked-away cul-de-sac in my neighborhood. Sure, we were short players and didn’t have any definite teams. And, sure, the other players were all boys ages 5-8, the majority of whom I have babysat at one time or another, but I was their pitcher for the night, and according to them I was doing pretty well. Nathan and Matthew kept praising me for striking out players, spouting off RBIs, and complimenting my curve balls and fastballs. Not that I really knew the difference. Heck, I was just trying to throw the ball to ’em. I even cheered when someone got a hit.

Those boys (Nathan, Matthew, Nathan, and Cameron) really get into the game. They love baseball. Probably play every night. I’ve actually come out to watch them play a few times before. Things usually get a little out of control. The boys bicker and fight about foul balls and whether or not someone is safe. Sometimes theres an all-out tackle in the grass. Regardless, I decided to join in. Give ’em a hand. And played dumb when asked to referee anything.

Luckily, they took my advice and ruled out any base stealing while I was in the game. It makes things a bit easier and minimizes the fighting. However, it did slip their minds every-so-often. But then someone would yell, “No stealing bases! Sara doesn’t understand it!”

I picked up a few things about baseball. The boys really seem to know what they’re doing. Matthew offered me his glove and told me how to hold the ball, “like a real pitcher.” Nathan, his older brother, told me how to aim when I threw the ball and how to properly catch a ball with a glove. And the other Nathan insisted I pick my leg up, “like a real pitcher” and sing taunts to the batters. It was all extremely cute the way they were teaching me about baseball.

But that wasn’t even the cutest thing. Cameron, a short, tan little boy, is very, very serious when he plays sports. He would stand ready with his bat, sway it in the air and stare me down as I prepared a pitch. And when he played catcher he would squat and nod at me to tell me he was ready. I can’t even describe well enough how professional and serious he looked. It took all my strength to keep my composure and throw the ball to him, instead of doubling over and saying to him, “You are just so cute!” in between giggles.

Oh, and at one point a little girl on a scooter came over and watched me all wide-eyed as I pitched. She complimented me on my pitching and asked me all sorts of questions like: Do I play baseball? Have I batted yet? Have I run yet? How old am I? Etc. That was pretty cute.

I probably played for a little over an hour. I’m really glad I did, too. I had fun doing it. I got some exercise. And I don’t mind spending time with the kids I babysit. They make me feel like an athlete. Feels good.