Saturday, June 03, 2006

Great Moments in Red Sox History #4

Dateline: 10/1/61

On October 1, 1961 Jackie Jensen retired from baseball for good. In 1958, he'd won the AL MVP. He was a three time All Star. He led the league in RBI and won the gold glove for right field in 1959. He retired after that, but came back in 1961 and gave baseball another shot. His numbers weren't great so he gave the game up again.

Those of you who haven't heard of Jackie Jensen might assume that he retired because of injury problems. Not quite. Baseball's expansion to the West Coast in the mid 1950s ended Jackie's career. Granted, the first two teams to move to California were in the National League, but it was only a matter of time until an American League team moved out there too. Playing games on the West Coast meant that teams could no longer travel by train, the distances were too great and there simply wasn't enough time.Jackie Jensen retired from baseball because he was afraid of flying.

I had intended to post this earlier, but I myself had to do a bit of air travel in May. Even the Cincinnati Kid is a bit afraid when it comes to the miracle of heavier than air flight. I don't get cold sweats, and I don't need the Dutch courage to get on a plane, but I don't like flying. I don't like it when the plane banks suddenly. I'm not a fan of looking out the window and seeing the ground at a 45 degree angle. That is not a good time.

I also watch My Name Is Earl (the absolute best show on TV, and if you try to tell me Idol is better, then you're a moron). Karma can get you. The last thing I need is a post making fun of someone for being afraid of flying before I get on a plane. That would look quite funny in my obituary: "A guy afraid of flying dies in a plane crash after he made fun of some other poor guy whose career was ruined by aviphobia." Of course, there are only about 10 people in the world who know the Cincinnati Kid's real identity, so there wouldn't be much of a story. Outside of unrequited love, there's nothing sadder than unappreciated irony.

Another reason I held off for a while is that Jackie Jensen died in the 1980s. Speaking ill of the dead isn't particularly cool. But I am (as I've said a time or two) a sad, small, bitter person. I can't let an opportunity pass to remind Red Sox fans that times weren't always this good for the Old Towne Team. There was a time when star players retired because they were afraid of a little bit of air travel. And one day, if the Universe decides to do the right thing, those days will come back.

P.S. Why is alcohol called Dutch courage? If I were Dutch, I think I'd be just a little bit bent about that. After all, France is practically next door. There's no way the Dutch are any less tough than the French. And what about Belgium? Why not Belgian courage? Obviously Luxembourg is out, because there'd be too many syllables. The sad thing about this post is that I haven't even started drinking yet. I have some problems.

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