Kids Have a Ball at Doolittle Story Hour

Kids Have a Ball at Doolittle Story Hour

Sean Doolittle, former Nationals player, reads “Clifford Makes the Team” at story hour held Saturday, June 8 at Arlington Central Library.

Sean Doolittle, former Nationals player, reads “Clifford Makes the Team” at story hour held Saturday, June 8 at Arlington Central Library.

The floor at the Central Library auditorium is dotted with small children clutching a glossy Nats poster or a baseball. “Are you excited to have a story hour with Sean Doolittle?” A loud whooooo mingles with the sound of enthusiastic clapping.

Doolittle retired as a left-handed relief pitcher for the Nats in 2023 after more than a decade pitching in the major leagues. He is now a pitching strategist with the team.

Doolittle agreed to answer questions from the children before he reads “Clifford Makes the Team.”

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: My favorite book to read as a child was “Curious George,” the one where he goes to a baseball game. That was my favorite one.

Q: What job would you want to do if you weren’t a baseball player?

A: I studied psychology. It helps me in my job now as a coach connecting with people. I think I would want to be a psychologist.

Q: What was it like to pitch in the World Series?

A: Oh my gosh. I was so nervous. I pitched in the first game. After the first pitch it was really fun. And we won so it was really awesome.

Q: What is the best thing about coaching?

A: My favorite thing is when one of the pitchers is trying to learn something new and able to pitch really really well … talking to him after.

Q: How do you make yourself feel better when you’re not having the best day?

A: Do something you feel better doing. I unwind by reading. I love to read. Take care of yourself by finding something you enjoy doing—balance in your life.

Q: How many games did you play?

A: Pause…There’s probably a way to look that up. I’d say 450. This results in a loud round of clapping.

Q: How old were you when you started playing?

A: Four-years old when I started playing T-ball.

Q: How did you get your uniform number?

A: That’s a good question. It means a lot to me. My grandparents were married 63 years. They came to all of my high school games and they lived close to UVA so they came to a lot of those games, too. The number was in honor of them.

Q: What is your game prep?

A: It has changed over the years. Let’s use today as an example with a game at 4 p.m. I get to the stadium at 12 or 12:30, have lunch, do crossword puzzles. Then I talk to the trainer, hit the weight room, do my stretching, play catch and work on different pitches. Then finally have a snack and coffee and review the opposing team’s hitting.

Q: Who's the toughest player you ever faced?

A: Hmmmm. There were a lot of them. Altuve—do you know who that is? And Wilson Ramos who used to play for the Nats. I could never get him out.

Q. Did you win the first game you pitched in?

A:  No, we lost the first game of my career. But then we went on a winning streak after that.

“Thank you guys. That was awesome.”

Doolittle crosses his legs and opens “Clifford Makes the Team.”

“Clifford sees a boy. He has a bat. Clifford sees a girl. She has a bat, too. Clifford wants to play baseball.”

A young fan is delighted to get a Doolittle Nats shirt signed by Doolittle. 


The story is over and the kids scramble to line up for autographs. Doolittle talks to each one and poses for pictures with the family and friends. Dylan Aldrich-Sacharko brought his Doolittle bobblehead for a signature. Many of the children have grabbed the large Nats poster at the welcoming desk while others have brought their own baseball to be signed. 

A four-year-old takes off his red Nats hat and presents it to be signed, and one child thrusts a Doolittle shirt on the table. Doolittle lights up when one family presents a “Curious George” book to get the prized signature. Three-month old Nicole Bates waits in line with her parents Kate and Ronnie Bates. “This is her first trip to the library but we read a lot at home,” Kate says. “We plan to take her to her first Nats game this summer.”

The announcer reminds everyone that the 21-day Summer Reading Adventure has started at the library. She explains if you just read a little for 21 days sometime before Sept. 1 and get a prize, or even better, two tickets to a Nats game.