Jackie Jensen (March 9, 1927 – July 14, 1982) was a right fielder in Major League Baseball who played for three American League teams from 1950 to 1961, most notably the Boston Red Sox. He was named the AL’s Most Valuable Player in 1958 after hitting 35 home runs and leading the league with 122 runs batted in; 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. 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 4th-ranked Cal was upset 20–14 by 7th-ranked Northwestern. He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
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. 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. 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. In 1956 he 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). Jensen 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 due to 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 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. Following his retirement, Jensen became sports director at a Reno, Nevada radio station, worked as a college football broadcaster for ABC television, coached baseball at the University of Nevada and at California, and also managed in the minor leagues. Co-owner of the Bow & Bell restaurant with Charles “Boots” Erb in Jack London Square. In 1949 he married his high school girlfriend Zoe Ann Olsen, the silver medalist in diving at the 1948 Summer Olympics; the couple divorced in 1968. They had three children, Jon, Jan, and Jay. Jay’s son Tucker Jensen pitched in two College World Series for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and played in the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2011 and 2012. As of 2013, he was pitching for the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League. Jensen died of a heart attack in Charlottesville, Virginia at age 55. He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2000 the biography The Golden Boy: A Biography of Jackie Jensen was published by Peter Randall Press. The author was George I. Martin, with a foreword by Curt Gowdy.
Rosey Grier born July 14, 1932 is an American actor, singer, Christian minister, and former professional American football player. He was a notable college football player for The Pennsylvania State University who earned a retrospective place in the National Collegiate Athletic Association 100th anniversary list of 100 most influential student athletes. As a professional player, Grier was a member of the New York Giants and the original Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Rams. He played in the Pro Bowl twice. After Grier’s professional sports career he worked as a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign and was guarding the senator’s wife, Ethel Kennedy, during the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. Although unable to prevent that killing, Grier took control of the gun and subdued the shooter, Sirhan Sirhan. Grier’s other activities have been colorful and varied. He hosted his own Los Angeles television show and made approximately 70 guest appearances on various shows during the 1960s and 1970s. As a singer, Grier first released singles on the A label in 1960, and over the following twenty-five years he continued to record on various labels including Liberty, Ric, MGM and A&M. His recording of a tribute to Robert Kennedy, “People Make The World” (written by Bobby Womack) was his only chart single, peaking at #128 in 1968. Grier is known for his serious pursuit of hobbies not traditionally associated with men. He has authored several books, including Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men in 1973. Grier became an ordained Christian minister in 1983 and travels as an inspirational speaker. He founded American Neighborhood Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that serves inner city youth.
Born in Cuthbert, Georgia as one of twelve children, Grier was named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was governor of New York at the time of Grier’s birth and was elected president of the United States later that year. He played high school football at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, New Jersey. After playing on the defensive line on the Penn State University football team, Grier was drafted as the 31st overall pick in the third round of the 1955 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He played with the Giants from 1955 to 1962, during which he led the team to a NFL Championship in 1956 and the Eastern Conference Championship in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962. Grier was selected for the Pro Bowl in 1956 and 1960, and was named All-Pro at the defensive tackle position in 1956 and 1958–1962. Grier was then traded in July 1963 to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for defensive tackle John LoVetere and a high future draft pick. He was part of the “Fearsome Foursome”, along with Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, and Lamar Lundy, considered one of the best defensive lines in football history. His career ended in 1967 due to a torn Achilles tendon. Despite being the oldest member of the Fearsome Foursome, Grier is the last surviving member following the death of Deacon Jones on June 3, 2013. After his retirement, Grier hosted the Rosey Grier Show on KABC-TV, a weekly half-hour television show discussing community affairs in Los Angeles.
Grier served as a bodyguard for his friend, United States senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. He was guarding Ethel Kennedy, the Senator’s wife, who was then expecting a child, the night that Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. Grier and Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson heard shots fired ahead of them. As Grier caught up he saw men wrestling with gunman Sirhan Sirhan. Grier jumped into the fray. Grier states, “So I see George Plimpton has the gun pointed at his face, and I’m concerned that it is going to go off, so I put my hand under the trigger housing and I pulled back the hammer so it couldn’t strike. I wrench the gun from Sirhan. I find the pin and I ripped it out and held it. Now I have the gun in my hand, so I shove it in my pocket.” Grier later said, “I grabbed the man’s legs and dragged him onto a table. There was a guy angrily twisting the killer’s legs and other angry faces coming towards him, as though they were going to tear him to pieces. I fought them off. I would not allow more violence.”In December 1968, he accompanied Bob Hope on “Operation Holly,” Hope’s 1968 USO tour, Grier performed alongside headliner Ann-Margret and others personnel at the U.S. bases at Long Bình, Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, Chu Lai, and Phù Cát, as well as aboard the carriers USS Hancock and USS New Jersey, and at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base and U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield in Thailand, along with stops in South Korea and Guam.
Grier was well known in the 1970s for his hobbies of needlepoint and macrame, practices not normally associated with “macho” sports figures. Grier has a daughter from a previous relationship named Sherryl Brown-Tubbs. He later married Bernice Lewis, who had one child, Denise, whom he adopted before getting divorced. He then married Margie Grier and had a son, Roosevelt Kennedy Grier, in 1972. He and Margie divorced in 1978 and remarried in 1980. Margie Grier died on June 10, 2011. He married Wichita school teacher Cydnee Seyler on April 30, 2013. A nephew, Mike “Big Daddy” Grier, followed his uncle’s career in sports when he enrolled as a student at Boston University, but he played ice hockey instead of football. Grier released his autobiography ‘Rosey: The Gentle Giant’ in 1986.
Grier has appeared in a number of films and television shows. One of the first football stars to successfully transition to acting, he made about 70 television guest appearances. Grier has also written a number of books, and now travels the United States as an inspirational speaker. He is a cofounder of American Neighborhood Enterprises, an organization that works to help disadvantaged city dwellers buy homes and receive vocational training. Grier was ordained a Christian minister in 1983, and the next year he founded his nonprofit resource center for inner-city teens, developing spiritual and educational programs for disadvantaged youths. Grier is a prominent member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He is also on the Milken Family Foundation board of trustees and serves as its program administrator of community affairs. He has been honored by Penn State as recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1974, and the Alumni Fellow Award in 1991. He was named to the NCAA’s “List of the 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes” published to commemorate the NCAA’s 100th anniversary. In 1997, he was inducted into the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame.