Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#400 Jackie Jensen

People don't talk much about Jackie Jensen these days but in his time, particularly during his Red Sox days in the second half of the 1950s, he was an excellent ballplayer.

A California boy, Jensen was a Navy vet when he attended Cal and starred on the football field despite not even being a football scholarship recruit. His play on the baseball field at Cal got him a contract with the Oakland Oaks of the PCL and he played a year there before the Yankees signed him for a 1950 debut. He was touted as Joe DiMaggio's replacement but a lack of production and the logjam of talent in New York (Hello, Mr. Mantle) got Jensen a ticket to the Senators in 1952 and then it was on to the Red Sox in 1954.

He became a star alongside Ted Williams and nobody, not Williams nor Mantle drove in more runs during the time he patrolled rightfield at Fenway between 1954 and 1959. He had won the 1958 AL MVP when this card was fresh.

But he suffered from a fear of flying and retired after the '59 season. He made an attempt at a comeback in 1961 but couldn't overcome his flying jitters. He he went on to work for for ABC TV and was also the baseball coach for the University of Nevada, Reno, and at his alma mater, Cal Berkeley. He moved to Virginia, where he became a tree farmer and established the Jackie Jensen Baseball Camp.

A couple of interesting page for more of Jackie Jensen's life is here and this Sports Illustrated Vault page is well worth the read. And still more about Jensen... his College Football Hall of Fame page, and from his Oakland Oaks days.

Jensen is one of those guys, like Rocky Colavito, that I collect casually. I'll pick up a card if I find one that is reasonable but I don't go searching for specific ones and I haven't created a want list. 

I had a lesser conditioned '59 before I ever dreamed of collecting this set and I knew I had to upgrade it. I think this one is the first of the cards I grabbed off eBay when I went after the whole set. Obviously 'off-centeredness' hasn't been a problem for me.

My first and favorite Jansen card:

Jensen on some 1950's covers:

1 comment:

  1. I collect Jensen cards in the same fashion. His cards always seem like bargains. I have backed up my 59 Topps #400 card at least twice out of dollar bins.

    I would think Jackie Jensen would be an interesting subject for a feature film - or at least a documentry.