Born in 1978 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Carlos Torres became one of the newest Major League Baseball umpires when he was officially promoted to the full-time staff in February this year as one of four replacements for retiring umps. When he got the call, “I was in my apartment in Venezuela, my wife and my two kids were with me,” he said. “I just cried and cried—I couldn't even speak for few minutes. It was an indescribable emotion and sometimes I still don't believe it.”
Torres played baseball growing up in Venezuela, until he was 18 years old. But, he said, “I tried to make it as a professional baseball player but I didn't comply with the requirements.” Instead, he turned his attention to umpiring, working his first game in Little League in 1998. In 2004 he attended a clinic for Venezuela’s Winter League, and he might still be working games there if it weren’t for Jorge Bauza.
Bauza was a minor league umpire supervisor and scouting for potential umpires. He saw something in Torres and told him about the MLB Umpire Camps Initiative. MLB Umpire Camps assist umpires in furthering the advancement of their college, high school, and little league umpiring careers and also serve as a preparatory course to those considering a career as a Major League or Minor League umpire. And Bauza wanted Torres to attend.
“Honestly, I didn't know about them,” explained Torres. “But when I came to the camp I was truly amazed. I met Major League umpires that never stopped teaching you all day long. We worked in the cage, calling balls and strikes with several supervisors; we had a few supervisors on the field teaching the two-man umpire system. This is an amazing idea by MLB opening and giving opportunities to so many people trying to reach a dream.”
Torres’s professional career began in Rookie ball in 2009, and he worked his way up the ranks: the Gulf Coast League, New York–Penn League, South Atlantic League, Carolina League, Southern League, and then the International League. He saw his first MLB action in 2015—with his crew providing cake and champagne after the game to celebrate—and spent the majority of 2016 in the bigs filling in for other umps.
Then came The Call, and the tears that followed. With the promotion, Torres became the first man from MLB’s Umpire Camps Initiative to make it to the bigs—the first of many, MLB hopes.
Off the field, Torres says “my family is everything for me.” His wife and children still reside in Venezuela, but he plans on finding a house in Florida after the 2017 season and moving them to the States. When they’re together, Torres enjoys cooking with his wife and playing video games with his kids. For now, his family is studying English in preparation for the move. Asked the biggest difference between his old and new homes, though, and Torres replied, “There are so many differences that I could spend hours counting them but the biggest one for me is our food.”
Torres got his first exposure to UMPS CARE Charities last year in Anaheim and is excited for more. “The whole crew went to the hospital trying to make those beautiful kids smile,” he said. “I love kids and have been blessed for the two kids that I have. To get involved in this makes me love our life even more. Every time I have an opportunity to help I'll do it. If the charity needs me for anything, I'll be there."