If you would’ve asked Nick Torres one year ago where he’d be living today, it’s doubtful he would’ve envisioned this.
Torres, who plays for the Kansas City T-Bones minor-league baseball team, came to the KC area with high hopes and an open mind. Before signing with the T-Bones, he met with the team and heard about an interesting potential living arrangement.
“When we were looking for a place to play this season, I was talking to the manager and he mentioned this was an option,” Torres, a 25-year-old outfielder, said. “It’s kind of like a host family ... This seemed very different, but it was perfect for us.”
“This” turned out to be an assisted-living center in Kansas City, Kan., not far from T-Bones Stadium. And “us” meant Lakewood, Calif., native Torres, his wife, Korrin, and their golden retriever, Scout.
When the beginning of May rolled around, the Torres family unpacked their boxes in Piper Assisted Living and Memory Care. And from the moment they stepped out into the facility’s communal den, they were welcomed with open arms.
Nick’s life since being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round out of California Polytechnic State University in 2014 has been a blur, one minor-league team to the next, all in the name of chasing his dream. This season, he’s hitting a healthy .318 with a team-leading 37 RBIs and club-best 18 doubles.
“I’ve stayed in a lot of crazy places, and I’m naturally skeptical when moving into new places. But this has by far been the best setup we’ve had,” Nick said.
The room in which they stay is a brisk, two-minute walk from the facility’s living room, so Nick and Korrin are fairly involved in their new community.
After finishing her morning classes — she teaches courses online — Korrin begins many days by walking into the facility’s kitchen to help the staff cook breakfast. When Nick is done catching up on sleep after games, he mingles with their neighbors, talking baseball.
Tony Dusil, a 91-year-old resident at the Piper, has enjoyed their company. A World War II veteran, he saves the newspaper every morning for Korrin. When Nick comes out, they talk about the T-Bones’ next game.
“They’ve become family,” Dusil said. “I love to see them — it’s a lot of fun … they’re a great part of the gang.”
Because of the extra company, Korrin never finds herself fully alone when Nick is on the road for games. That wasn’t the case before they moved into the Piper. There were a lot of lonely days, and nights. Now, she said, she’s able to walk out her door and “talk to other residents to stay sane.”
“The Piper and the T-Bones have both been a match made in Heaven and they’ve been so accommodating,” Korrin said. “I don’t think we have ever had this much support … It’s been incredible how many people reach out to us and make sure there isn’t anything that we need. It’s been really special to us.”
The setup really couldn’t be much better. T-Bones Stadium is just five minutes away. Home games find Korrin and Scout watching from the grass berm beyond the outfield. Fans might even see Nick hit a home run and Scout catch the ball.
Nick and Korrin, an Oregon native, met when she was a communications intern. After getting married in November 2016, the couple made a “no dogs for one year, no kids for three years” pact. Three weeks after their wedding, they adopted Scout on a whim.
“We kept talking about getting a dog,” Nick said. “We wanted to help others and get involved in charities … Scout has had an impact on everyone around her.”
Residents at the community and spectators at the T-Bones’ games often line up to pet Scout. With her calm and sensitive temperament, she attracts people of all ages.
While there are plenty of baseball fans at the Piper, they remind Nick that there’s more to life than baseball. The community has not only been positively affected by Nick and Korrin — the community has affected them in profound ways, too.
“They’re constantly reminding me there is so much more than baseball,” Nick said. “This was such an opportunity and this is really one of the biggest moments that we can see that. There’s always relationships to be made outside of our careers.”
“I think we came in here really thinking that we were going to be around people that wanted to support us and love on us during a time that’s been a little difficult, especially for him (Nick),” Korrin said. “We have really enjoyed building relationships with everyone.”