Mike Torrez

January 31, 2012

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.


  1. josh, i’m sure there is a scientific explanation to the 1974 topps “gentler ageing process”
    but i prefer your subjective colorful take on it. i love the card on display here. it seems so appropriate for many reasons including your feelings on our eventual being dusted.

    mike torrez was part of the worst trade in expos history, worst at the time anyway..
    torrez and singleton to the orioles for rich coggins and dave mcnally who pitched 77 innnings for the expos and then suffered some sort of steve blss syndrome and retired.
    for expo fans, all we can do is go back and relive the glory of simply having a team because “what will be” is better left for a history book hiding in a library corner collecting dust.

  2. I’m not a religious person, but have instead summed up my philosophy of the universe with the exact four words you use here: it’s all one song. I heard them at the beginning of a Neil Young album years ago and they said it all.

    To some it might seem very odd that I would find your website at all, then that you would take the exact words I use as my philosophy and expand on them in a way that sounds like I could have written it myself. It’s not odd at all. Feels that way sometimes, for sure, but it’s not.

    Thanks for writing, sir.

  3. …dare I add that in my entire earlier-life baseball obsession, I managed to acquire exactly one game-worn jersey, and that said jersey is a Rochester Red Wings shirt, #20, worn by Bill Kirkpatrick, the third man headed north (though he never got there) in that fateful trade?

    I’ve had it for 30 years. It’s hanging on the wall in my spare bedroom. Until tonight I’d wondered why.

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