Jackie Jensen

Jack Eugene Jensen (March 9, 1927 – July 14, 1982) was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball who played for three American League (AL) teams from 1950 to 1961, most notably the Boston Red Sox. He was named the AL's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1958 after hitting 35 home runs and leading the league with 122 runs batted in (RBIs); he also led the league in RBIs two other years, and in triples and stolen bases once each. Respected for his throwing arm, he won a Gold Glove Award and led the AL in assists and double plays twice each. He retired in his early thirties as major-league baseball expanded westward, due to an intense fear of flying. After being a two-sport star in college, Jensen was the first man to play in the Rose Bowl, the World Series, and the baseball All-Star Game.[a]

Jackie Jensen
Jackie Jensen 1953
Jensen in 1953.
Right fielder
Born: March 9, 1927
San Francisco, California
Died: July 14, 1982 (aged 55)
Charlottesville, Virginia
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 18, 1950, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1961, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.279
Home runs199
Runs batted in929
Career highlights and awards

Early years

Jensen was born in San Francisco, California. His parents divorced when he was five, and he was raised by his mother, who frequently moved the family. After serving in the Navy toward the end of World War II, he became an All-American in two sports at the University of California. As a baseball pitcher and outfielder, he helped California to win the inaugural College World Series in 1947. He pitched Cal to victory in the regional final by outdueling Bobby Layne of Texas, and in the championship Cal defeated a Yale team featuring future President George Bush. As a football halfback, Jensen was a consensus All-American as a junior in 1948, becoming the first Cal player to rush for 1,000 yards. In the season-ending 7–6 victory over Stanford he ran for 170 yards, kicked a punt for 67 yards, and had a 32-yard run late in the game in a 4th-and-31 situation. Cal ended the regular season at 10–0 under coach Pappy Waldorf, winning a share of its first Pacific Coast Conference title in ten years, and Jensen placed fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, with Doak Walker taking the award. In the 1949 Rose Bowl, Jensen scored a touchdown in the first quarter to tie the game 7–7, but fourth-ranked Cal was upset 20–14 by seventh-ranked Northwestern.

Baseball career

Jackie Jensen 1959
Jensen with the Red Sox.

In 1949, Jensen, who batted and threw right-handed, left college after his junior year and signed with the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. His contract – along with Billy Martin's – was sold to the New York Yankees in 1950 with the intention of him being a backup for Joe DiMaggio. But he played in only 108 games for the Yankees over three years, primarily in left field. He appeared as a pinch runner for Bobby Brown in the eighth inning of Game 3 of the 1950 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, but was in the game only briefly before Johnny Mize popped up to end the inning.[1] Jensen did not stay in the game defensively, and the Yankees completed a sweep of the Phillies in Game 4; he did not appear in the 1951 Series against the New York Giants.

Following the arrival of Mickey Mantle with the Yankees, in May 1952 Jensen was sent to the Washington Senators in a six-player deal, and he made his first All-Star team. He finished the season with a .286 batting average and 80 RBIs, leading the league with 17 assists and placing third in the AL with 18 steals, a total he duplicated in 1953. He was traded to the Red Sox in December 1953, and led the AL with 22 steals in 1954, also finishing third in RBIs (117) and fourth in home runs (25). But despite his speed he also set a major league record by grounding into double plays 32 times, breaking Bobby Doerr's 1949 total of 31; the record would stand until Jim Rice grounded into 36 double plays in 1984. No longer facing the pressure of becoming his team's principal star, Jensen again made the All-Star team in 1955, leading the league with 116 RBIs and finishing tenth in the MVP vote.

For 1956 Jensen batted a career-high .315 and led the AL with 11 triples, and in 1957 he had 103 RBIs and led the league in both assists (16) and double plays (4). He made his last All-Star team in 1958 when he batted .286 with a league-leading 122 RBIs, also placing second in the AL with 99 walks and fifth in HRs (35), doubles (31), total bases (293) and on-base percentage (.396). In June of that same year, he set a Red Sox club record for most home runs in a single month (since tied by David Ortiz) with 14. He won MVP honors, beating out Bob Turley, Rocky Colavito and Bob Cerv for the award. In 1959 he again led the league in RBIs (112) and won his only Gold Glove after leading the AL in double plays (4) for the second time; he also scored a career-best 101 runs and stole 20 bases, and came in tenth in the MVP balloting.


Jensen announced his retirement from baseball in January 1960, primarily because of an intense fear of flying but also the result of the long separations from his family. He stated, "I have only one life to live, and I'll be happier when I can spend it with my family. Being away from home with a baseball team for seven months a year doesn't represent the kind of life I want or the kind of life my wife and children want." Indeed, upon his trade to the Red Sox in 1953 he considered not reporting to the team in order to return to his family in California, but general manager Joe Cronin increased his salary by $1,000 and he agreed to play. As teams had increasingly turned to air travel in the 1950s, he had unsuccessfully sought to combat his aversion to flying, aided considerably by Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, who arranged for therapy treatments. Once major-league baseball expanded to the West Coast in 1958, and with further expansion and constant air travel foreseen, these difficulties became virtually insurmountable.

Jensen returned to play for Boston in 1961, but turned to hypnotherapy when his panic attacks at airports became unbearable. Frustrated by a sub-par season (.263, 66 RBIs), he retired again for good. In an 11-season career, Jensen was a .279 hitter with 199 home runs and 929 RBIs in 1438 games. He also collected 810 runs, 1463 hits, 259 doubles, 45 triples, 143 stolen bases, and 750 walks for a .369 on-base percentage. He finished his career with a .977 fielding percentage at all three outfield positions.

Television appearances

On April 17, 1956, Jensen appeared as himself, with Vivi Janiss as his mother, in "The Jackie Jensen Story," which aired on the NBC anthology television series Cavalcade of America. Child actor Gary Gray played Jensen as a sixteen-year-old.[2]

Jensen appeared in four episodes of Home Run Derby, which first aired in 1960. He was 2–2 in his appearances, defeating Ernie Banks[3] and Rocky Colavito,[4] while losing twice to Mickey Mantle.[5][6]

Later life

Following his retirement, Jensen became sports director at radio station KTVN in Reno, Nevada, worked as a college football broadcaster for ABC television, and coached baseball at the University of Nevada and at the University of California, Berkeley.[7][8] He also managed the minor league Jamestown Falcons in 1970.[9] He was co-owner of the Bow & Bell restaurant with Charles "Boots" Erb in Jack London Square in Oakland, California.[10]

In 1949, Jensen married his high school girlfriend Zoe Ann Olsen, the silver medalist in diving at the 1948 Summer Olympics; the couple divorced in 1968. Later that year he married Katherine Cortezi. Jensen had three children by his first wife – Jon, Jan, and Jay. Jay's son Tucker Jensen pitched in two College World Series for Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays organization during 2011–2012, and pitched for the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League during 2013–2014.[11]

Jensen died at or on the way to University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the age of fifty-five after suffering an apparent heart attack at his home near Scottsville, Virginia. He is interred in Amherst, Virginia.


Jensen was one of several Red Sox players featured in the 1957 Norman Rockwell painting The Rookie.[12]

Jensen was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1983,[13] the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984,[14] and the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000.[15] Also in 2000, The Golden Boy: A Biography of Jackie Jensen was published, with a foreword by Curt Gowdy.


  1. ^ In 1959, Chuck Essegian became the only other person to play in both the Rose Bowl and World Series.

See also


  • Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia (2000). Kingston, New York: Total/Sports Illustrated. ISBN 1-892129-34-5.
  • ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (2005). New York: ESPN Books. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1.
  1. ^ "New York Yankees 3, Philadelphia Phillies 2". Retrosheet. October 6, 1950.
  2. ^ "The Jackie Jensen Story on Cavalcade of America". Internet Movie Data Base. April 17, 1956. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  3. ^ "Home Run Derby S01E24 Jackie Jensen vs Ernie Banks". Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "Home Run Derby S01E25 Jackie Jensen vs Rocky Colavito". Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "Home Run Derby S01E03 Mickey Mantle vs Jackie Jensen". Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Home Run Derby S01E26 Mickey Mantle vs Jackie Jensen". Retrieved December 21, 2016 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ "JACKIE JENSEN, BASEBALL STAR WHO WON M.V.P., DIES AT 55". The New York Times. July 15, 1982.
  8. ^ "JACKIE JENSEN The Golden Boy". jackiejensen.com. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  9. ^ "Jamestown Falcons". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  10. ^ "Bow & Bell". restaurantwarecollectors.com. November 10, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "Tucker Jensen". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  12. ^ "Norman Rockwell's 'The Rookie'". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  13. ^ "1983 Inductees". bashof.org. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  14. ^ "Jackie Jensen". cfbhall.com. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  15. ^ "Red Sox Hall of Fame". MLB.com. Retrieved December 21, 2016.

Further reading

External links

1947 California Golden Bears baseball team

The 1947 California Golden Bears baseball team represented the University of California in the 1947 NCAA baseball season. The Golden Bears played their home games at Evans Diamond. The team was coached by Clint Evans in his 18th season at California.

The Golden Bears won the inaugural College World Series, defeating the Yale Bulldogs in the championship game.

1947 College Baseball All-America Team

An All-American team is an honorary sports team composed of the best amateur players of a specific season for each team position—who in turn are given the honorific "All-America" and typically referred to as "All-American athletes", or simply "All-Americans". Although the honorees generally do not compete together as a unit, the term is used in U.S. team sports to refer to players who are selected by members of the national media. Walter Camp selected the first All-America team in the early days of American football in 1889.From 1947-1980, the American Baseball Coaches Association was the only All-American selector recognized by the NCAA.

1950 New York Yankees season

The 1950 New York Yankees season was the 48th season for the team in New York and its 50th overall as a franchise. The team finished with a record of 98–56, winning their 17th pennant, finishing 3 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. In the World Series, they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in 4 games. New York was managed by Casey Stengel. The Yankees played at Yankee Stadium.

1954 Boston Red Sox season

The 1954 Boston Red Sox season was the 54th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 69 wins and 85 losses.

1955 Boston Red Sox season

The 1955 Boston Red Sox season was the 55th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 84 wins and 70 losses.

1956 Boston Red Sox season

The 1956 Boston Red Sox season was the 56th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 84 wins and 70 losses.

1958 Boston Red Sox season

The 1958 Boston Red Sox season was the 58th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 79 wins and 75 losses, thirteen games behind the AL and World Series champion New York Yankees. It would be the last time the Red Sox finished a season above .500, until their "Impossible Dream" season of 1967.

1958 Major League Baseball season

The 1958 Major League Baseball season was played from April 14 to October 15. It was the first season of play in California for the Los Angeles Dodgers (formerly of Brooklyn) and the San Francisco Giants (formerly of New York City). Three teams had relocated earlier in the decade: (Milwaukee, Baltimore, Kansas City). New York went without a National League team for four seasons, until the expansion Mets began play in 1962.

1959 Boston Red Sox season

The 1959 Boston Red Sox season was the 59th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fifth in the American League (AL) with a record of 75 wins and 79 losses, nineteen games behind the AL champion Chicago White Sox.

1959 Major League Baseball season

The 1959 Major League Baseball season was played from April 9 to October 9, 1959. It saw the Los Angeles Dodgers, free of the strife produced by their move from Brooklyn the previous season, rebound to win the National League pennant after a two-game playoff against the Milwaukee Braves, who themselves had moved from Boston in 1953. The Dodgers won the World Series against a Chicago White Sox team that had not played in the "Fall Classic" since 1919 and was interrupting a Yankees' dynasty that dominated the American League between 1949 and 1964.

The season is notable as the only one between 1950 and 1981 where no pitcher pitched a no-hitter.

1961 Boston Red Sox season

The 1961 Boston Red Sox season was the 61st season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished sixth in the American League (AL) with a record of 76 wins and 86 losses, 33 games behind the AL and World Series champion New York Yankees.

Archie Wilson (baseball)

Archibald Clifton Wilson (November 25, 1923 – April 28, 2007) was a professional baseball player. He played parts of two seasons in Major League Baseball for three teams from 1951 to 1952, primarily as an outfielder. Listed at 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m), 175 lb (79 kg), Wilson batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Los Angeles.

In 1951, Wilson was elected the International League MVP while playing for the Buffalo Bisons. He later would be inducted in the International League Hall of Fame.

Wilson entered the majors late in the year with the New York Yankees, playing for them in part of two seasons before being traded along with Jackie Jensen and Spec Shea to the Washington Senators in the same transaction that brought Irv Noren to the Yankees. His stay in Washington was brief because he was sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Ken Wood.

In a 51-game Major League career, Wilson was a .221 hitter (31-for-140) with nine runs, five doubles, three triples, and 17 RBI without home runs. After his Major League career, he returned to the minor leagues, where he played until 1962, including seven seasons for Triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs.

Wilson died in Decatur, Alabama, at the age of 83.

Bill Howe

William F. "Bill" Howe (May 27, 1922 – June 26, 2007) was a baseball player at Yale University, most notable for earning First-Team All-American honors and playing in the inaugural 1947 College World Series alongside teammate George H. W. Bush and against the University of California's Jackie Jensen.

The son of Brigadier General William Francis Howe, Bill Howe attended Phillips Andover Academy before going on to serve as a first Lieutenant as a bombardier with the 15th Air Force in World War II. For his service, Howe was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.Howe went on to attend Yale University, where he played baseball and ice hockey. Howe would remain involved in sports throughout his life, winning the Rhode Island State Squash championship several times and owning a sporting goods store in Providence, Rhode Island.

California Golden Bears baseball

The California Golden Bears baseball team represents the University of California in NCAA Division I college baseball. Along with most other California athletic teams, the baseball team participates in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bears play their home games at Evans Diamond.

Chuck Essegian

Charles Abraham "Chuck" Essegian (born August 9, 1931) is an American former professional baseball left fielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics, and Cleveland Indians. He also played one season in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Kintetsu Buffaloes.A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Essegian attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. He entered the majors in 1958 with the Philadelphia Phillies, playing for them one year before joining the St. Louis Cardinals (1959), Los Angeles Dodgers (1959–1960), Baltimore Orioles (1961), Kansas City Athletics (1961, 1963) and Cleveland Indians (1961–1962). His most productive season came in 1962, when he posted career numbers in batting average (.274), runs (59), hits (92), doubles (12), home runs (21), runs batted in (50) and games played (106).In a six-season career, Essegian was a .255 hitter (260-for-1018) with 47 home runs and 150 RBI in 1018 games.During the 1959 World Series, Essegian set a Series record with two pinch-hit home runs against the Chicago White Sox. The mark would be matched by Bernie Carbo of the Boston Red Sox, who pinch-hit homers against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1975 Series.Following his career in the majors, Essegian played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Pacific League in 1964. He also played twelve Minor league seasons between 1953 and 1959, registering a .311 average with 97 homers in 1422 games appearances.Essegian is one of only two men to have played in both the Rose Bowl and the World Series. He played for Stanford University in the 1952 Rose Bowl event and appeared with the Dodgers in the 1959 Series. Jackie Jensen was the first to appear in both, while playing for University of California (1949) and the Yankees (1950), respectively.

Gary Gray (actor)

Gary Dickson Gray (December 18, 1936 – April 4, 2006) was an American child actor in films, and as an adult in television.

Home Run Derby (TV series)

Home Run Derby is a 1960 television show that was held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles pitting the top sluggers of Major League Baseball against each other in nine-inning home run contests. The show was produced and hosted by actor/broadcaster Mark Scott and distributed by Ziv Television Programs.Filmed in December 1959, the series aired in syndication from January 9 to July 2, 1960, and helped inspire the Home Run Derby event that is now held the day before the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game. ESPN staged a revival of the show in 1989.

List of Boston Red Sox award winners

This is a list of award winners and single-season leaderboards for the Boston Red Sox professional baseball team.

Zoe Ann Olsen-Jensen

Zoe Ann Olsen-Jensen (née Olsen on February 11, 1931) is a retired American diver. She competed in the 3 m springboard at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics and won a silver and a bronze medal, respectively. During her career Olsen won 12 AAU diving titles, starting from 1945 as a 14-year-old. In 1949 she married the football and baseball player Jackie Jensen, and divorced him in 1968.



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