Red Sox Fans

Feb. 11, 1959

Jackie Jensen, the 1958 American League Most Valuable Player, was said to be prepared to accept the Red Sox’ offer of a $40,000 contract, marking a substantial raise.

While the Red Sox finished in third place, well behind the pennant-winning Yankees and second-place White Sox, Jensen’s season – a .286 average, 35 homers and 122 RBIs – was sufficient to lift him past Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle in the MVP voting.

Jensen played for the AL champion Yankees in 1950, 1951 and 1952 as a reserve outfielder, appearing in a total of just 108 games over parts of those three seasons. Mantle eliminated Jensen from any opportunity to become a regular in the Yankees’ lineup.

Getting shipped to Washington in the second half of the 1952 season, then sent on to the Red Sox in 1954, Jensen blossomed into one of the top outfielders in the American League, in the field and at the plate.

Beyond the numbers, Jensen was noted as a hard-nosed player. The Boston Chapter of he BBWAA established the Jackie Jensen Award, given annually to the Red Sox player showing the most “hustle and determination.”

He cut his career short on very human terms at had nothing to do with his playing abilities. As MLB teams began using planes instead of trains as their favorite mode of transportation, Jensen retired after the 1959 season due to a great aversion to flying. He made a comeback attempt in 1961, after which he retired for good.