When I was boy, I thought Mike Cuellar’s last name was pronounced KEW-ler. It’s actually pronounced KWAY-ar, I think. But the point is, I sort of miss Mike “KEW-ler” Cuellar. I think of him as a separate entity from the actual Mike “KWAY-ar” Cuellar, but though the latter lives on (in both actuality and in the record books), the former lives on nowhere except in the large graveyard in my mind set aside for mistakes and misperceptions. The mispronounced Mike Cuellar was both more mysterious and closer to me than his successor, and his departure was part of a general trend in life toward distance and the dwindling of mystery.
Other baseball card names I mangled included Miguel Dilone (I pronounced it mi-GWELL di-LOAN), Rogelio Moret (Rah-JEE-leo ma-RETT), and Diego Segui (DAY-go seh-GWEE). I wasn’t so clear on Bruce Bochte, either. Was it BOCK-tee or BOTCH-tee? I didn’t know. Even one of the few names I knew beyond doubt how to pronounce aloud, and that I had in fact shouted until my throat was raw with thousands of others in his presence, became strange and complicated on his baseball card: Yastrzemski. And to this day I’m unclear on Sid Monge. Is it Monj? Mong? Mon-jay? Monjy? Mon-hay? Mongy? Mon-gay? Though I worry that some day some preposterous situation will arise that will require me to correctly pronounce Sid Monge, my confusion over which of the above options is correct strikes me as a rare surviving species from the world of my childhood. So if you know how to pronounce Sid Monge, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.