"Hey guys! Is it okay if my sister comes to watch us play?"

There were looks of confusion and dumbfoundedness amongst the boys of the Sandlot as my brother Scotty asked that question.

"If I let my sister come down here, what would you do, Smalls?" Ham asked. Calls of "Yeah, Smalls" followed.

"Oh, come on, guys, she's not that bad. She can play ball better than I can! She-"

"Smalls, anyone can play better than you!" said Michael 'Squints' Palledorous.

"Well, why don't you let me show you how good I really am?" I asked, stepping out from the bush behind which I was hiding.

Let me tell you a little about me. My name is Jennifer Taney. Scotty Smalls is my stepbrother, making Mom my stepmother. Even though my dad Bill married Mom a few years ago, Scotty and I have a relationship that feels like it was started forever ago. I am more outgoing, but Scotty is the coolest guy I know, if only he'd show it. We hit it off right away, starting out our first conversation with a debate over how much chocolate should be spooned into chocolate milk. :) Yeah, he's awesome.

Scotty told me of his first encounter with the gang as soon as he came running into the house all breathless and embarrassed. I told him to go back and talk to them and make friends, like Mom.

Hm, it's funny- he's less comfortable around Dad than I am with Mom. Guess males are weird that way. But that's what started this whole charade- him asking Dad stiffly if he would teach him to play baseball, which, in my opinion, is not as good as football, but I digress.

I offered to teach Scotty how to play (sports come naturally to me), but he felt uncomfortable learning from a girl about a primarily male sport. So, I shrugged and told him to keep bugging Dad about it till he grabbed a mitt and ball and headed out back.

Boys seem to think I am the girliest girl, just because I am a girl, until I show them up at whatever they choose. That's how I do things, by the way. I prove myself to those who don't believe in me.

The move here was no biggie- just a basic move, if you ask me. Scotty's conversation with me made it feel like we were driving to the beach for a day, only more excited. I didn't know how the people were going to be, so he suggested we think up the weirdest possible people imaginable so our expectations weren't so hard to surpass. That made making friends so much easier, at least for me. Scotty's too shy and unsure of himself. I keep telling him to use his strengths to get friends, such as his ability to build contraptions that roll a ball down a ramp and flick it up in the air to hit Mom on the forehead accidentally. He pretends like he'd love to, but I know that in truth he would never have the guts.

Which is why I was so shocked when he told me he went into the Sandlot and talked to the boys who played ball there. I felt so proud of my brother that I had to meet the guys myself! And that's where it all began...