This Week in 1960s Baseball
(January 26, 1960) In a surprise move, Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Jensen announced his retirement from baseball at age 33.
Jensen suffered from an intense fear of flying. Baseball’s expansion west only compounded his problem. In addition, Jensen wanted to spend more time with his family, telling reporters that “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.”
Despite his persistent problems with air travel, Jensen had become one of the most productive hitters in the late 1950s. He started his career with the New York Yankees and Washington Senators. Traded to the Red Sox prior to the 1954 season, Jensen averaged 111 RBIs per season from 1954 to 1959, leading the American League in runs batted in three times (1955, 1958 and 1959). He was the American League MVP for 1958.
After sitting out the 1960 season, Jensen tried to make a comeback in 1961. But his disappointment in his hitting that season (.263, 13 HRs, 66 RBIs) and his continuing fear of flying compelled Jensen to retirement for good after the 1961 campaign.