Here’s one Red Sox fans will remember: Jackie Jensen Retires 58 Years Ago Today!

 Here’s one Red Sox fans will remember: Jackie Jensen Retires 58 Years Ago Today!

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Here’s one Red Sox fans will remember: Jackie Jensen Retires 58 Years Ago Today!

“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.” –Jackie Jensen, 1960

Thirty-two year old Red Sox star Jackie Jensen announced his retirement, January 26, 1960 citing as reasons the long separations from his family, plus an intense fear of flying.

The San Francisco native played 11 years in the major (1950-’61), for the Yankees (1950-’52), Senators (1952-’53), and Red Sox (1954-’59, ’61). Over his career, he hit .279, with 199 home runs, 929 RBIs, 810 runs, 259 doubles, 45 triples, 143 stolen bases, .369 on-base percentage, .460 slugging average, and .829 OPS.

The three-time All-Star was the 1958 MVP when he hit .286 with 35 home runs, and 122 RBIs. Jensen led the league in RBIs three-times, and triples and stolen bases one time each. A fine defensive right fielder with an exceptionally strong throwing arm, he won a Gold Glove Award and led the American League in assists and double plays twice each.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, he became a star two-sport star athlete at the University of California. As a pitcher and outfielder, he helped California win the inaugural College World Series in 1947, defeating a Yale team featuring future President George Bush in the championship game. As a football halfback, Jensen was a consensus All-American as a junior in 1948, placing fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He scored a touchdown in the 1949 Rose in an upset loss to Northwestern. Jensen was the first person to play in the Rose Bowl, the World Series, and the baseball All-Star Game

With the expansion to the west coast in the late 1950s, the fear of flying issue became almost unsurmountable for Jensen as teams relied more and more on air travel. Therapy sessions arranged by Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, which included hypnotherapy to overcome panic attacks at airports, were only partially successful. He returned for the 1961 season, but retired for good after what he considered a sub-par year (.266, 66 RBIs).

After his playing day, 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. He was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Jackie Jensen passed away on July 14, 1982, age 55.

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Jackie Jensen Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.


  1. Bob Hoffenberg · January 26, 2018 Reply

    Jackie only took one year off after stating he was retiring. He came back for the 1961 season.

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