This Was Almost Earl Torgeson’s Final Card

Earl Torgeson was a hard hitting first baseman, an apt description regardless if one is referencing his bat or his fists. An enthusiastic member of the Boston Braves, he wore his widely recognized eyeglasses on the field and would make a habit of tucking them safely away before charging the mound (or dugout, as Giants catcher once Sal Yvars found to his dismay).

Torgeson’s 1952 Topps card was almost his last. For starters, he found his production declining at exactly the same moment that hot hitting George Crowe came up from the minors. Torgeson’s poor showing led to his being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in front of the 1953 season. Originally planning to fly to New Orleans for Spring Training, he and his wife instead borrowed the car of Braves teammate Vern Bickford so that they would have a way to get around. The move was fortuitous, as the National Airlines flight they had originally booked broke up in midair and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, killing all on board.

Torgeson and his glasses appear in the 1960 Leaf baseball set. What is particularly interesting about this card is the final sentence of the biographical text on the back. It says he pilots his own plane! Apparently he was not going to leave anything to chance after that close call in 1953.