How Strange the Design
The few 1974 cards I own have aged more gently than my cards from later years. I wonder why. Is this difference a result of a change in the materials and processes being used to create cards after 1974, or is it just a trick of my own mind, some kind of deeper, more distorting nostalgia for the longest-tenured cards in my collection? The edges of my 1974 cards have all been rounded to thin furry shoulders with the years, while the edges of the cards from the following years seem stiffer, more rigid, less personal, or less prone to allowing the personal to merge with the impersonal.
The 1974 cards remind me of my brother. All my cards do, but the cards from this year most of all, simply because as the years went on I separated from him a little more all the time; in the beginning, I didn’t know or want to know where I ended and he began. In a way, my possession of my own 1974 cards was a way to begin possessing a sense of a self independent from him. He had his cards and I had mine, but since the 1974 cards were the first in this separation they have the strongest air of being shared, not mine but ours.
It’s all one song. The past and the present and the future, the objects we’re drawn to, the people we’re drawn to, the people we drift from, the distances, the absences, the erosion, the softening, the blurring, the converging. One day this Mike Torrez card will disappear altogether. It is in the process of disappearing right now. It is itself the process of disappearance posing as a solid object. The worn-soft edges, the feel of love, it will give way and give way and finally be gone. I’ll be ashes long before that happens, but it’ll happen, and when it does it means this card and I will be everywhere and nowhere, all one song.
Mike Torrez is poised as perfectly as humanly possible at the center of the disappearing. He kicks one leg high, balanced, alert, focused, the potential of the moment at its peak. Everything is still to come, for me and for Mike Torrez. He will become a 20-game winner in 1976 and a World Series hero in 1977. There will be more beyond 1977 for Mike Torrez, but for now let’s stop right there with thoughts of what will be. That’s the year I’ll be starting little league. I’ll be standing in centerfield with a baseball uniform on, pounding my glove and cheering on my brother. He’ll be on the mound, wearing the same uniform, pivoting in his pitching motion and kicking his leg high.