Since it doesn’t show up in pen on paper, you might
    as well know that words like “because,” “fart,” “there,”
    and “banana” come out sounding like “becazz,” “faht,”
    “they-a,” and “bananer” when I say them out loud.
    I got this from Pop, who’s even worse than I am.  One
    time we took the train down to New York so he could
    show me where Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds
    used to be, and while we were ordering pizza in
    Brooklyn and back-and-forthing about who you’d
    rather have batting cleanup behind you—Pistol Pete
    Reiser or Charlie Banks—the waitress asked us what
    country we were from. (Like they’ve got room to talk in
    Brooklyn.)

    A lot of the snoots on Beacon Hill like to tell you that
    their ancestors came over with the Pilgrims, but this
    didn’t happen to us Kellers. We came over with the
    Red Sox. My Grandpa’s name was Tris Speaker Keller
    (after the 1907 outfielder they called “The Grey
    Eagle”), my Dad’s name is Theodore Williams Keller
    (world-famous slugger with ’tude in 1940-something),
    and I even have an Aunt Babe and an Aunt Ruth.   
    (This was a lucky coincidence. They met 38 years ago
    at a Bobby Kennedy rally in Rockport and they’ve
been together ever since. Aunt Babe swears they would have fallen in love even if Aunt Ruth’s
name had been Sheba, but I’m not so sure.) Pop couldn’t decide whether to call me Rico Petrocelli
or Freddy Lynn, but Uncle Yaz had twins that year and beat him to it. That’s how I wound up
Anthony Conigliaro Keller (another snarly batting champ who got beaned in 1967, which somehow
turned him into a hero). And the only one who’s allowed to call me Tony C is my Dad, because I’m
the only one who gets to call him Teddy Ballgame. To everybody else I’m just T.C. Except to my
brother Augie, who calls me Tick.

Oh, yeah. I should probably explain the brother thing, except I don’t really remember how it
happened. We were in first grade, the Red Sox were in fourth place, and I had a brand new hole in
my heart from losing my mother. But even though Augie and I had never talked to each other
before, he was the only one who knew what to say and how to say it. (Everybody else thought they
could get away with blowing smoke up my ass about Guardian Angels and Eternal Paradise, like my
mother had gone on a Princess Cruise.) Pretty soon we were taking make-believe trips to the
planet Twylo and losing our thumbs to alien walnuts, and that’s when I knew for sure that I wouldn’t
be sad forever. Well, anybody who can pull off something like that for you isn’t just a best friend—
that’s brother territory. So Augie told his Mom and Dad that they had a new son, and I told Pop the
same thing. Screw biology.

MORE on My Most Excellent Year.