Jackie Jensen died yesterday, five days away from hearing the cheers of Washington fans resound anew for him and so many fellow baseball heroes of the 1950s.
And the end came not so many miles away from RFK Stadium, scene of Monday's Cracker Jack Classic in which the California glamor guy of Yankees, Senators and Red Sox outfields would have been a central figure. Jensen's heart gave out after he was awakened by chest pains around 2 a.m. and taken from his Fluvanna County, Va., Christmas-tree farm to University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. He was 55.
He was American League MVP in 1958 when he hit 35 home runs and drove in 122 runs for Boston, one of three times he led the AL in RBI while compiling career figures of .279 and 199 homers. He was league stolen-base champion in 1954--with 22, the year after the Senators (for whom he hit .286 in 1952 and .266 in '53) traded him for Mickey McDermott and Tommy Umphlett. Jensen was an all-America fullback in football at Berkeley, 1948, most golden of the Golden Bears, but gave up his senior year to play baseball for Oakland (PCL) in '49, moving up to New York in '50.
He made headlines when he married Zoe Ann Olsen, of comparable glamor as an Olympic diving champion . . . when he abandoned the Red Sox and baseball in 1960 because of fear of flying . . . came back for one more season, 1961 . . . had a heart attack in 1969 while coaching U. of Nevada, a year after the marriage ended. He went on to coach alma mater California in the mid-1970s before retiring to Virginia, where he helped coach at Fork Union Military Academy.
He had complained of feeling ill Tuesday night after returning from his summer baseball camp at the academy. He leaves his second wife, Katherine; two sons and a daughter by his first wife, and a stepdaughter, Kay Tinsley Place of Washington. Funeral arrangements pending . . .
Forget Georgetown's proposed Thanksgiving basketball trip to Hawaii; NCAA denied Chaminade U. request to play a day ahead of Nov. 26 season opening. But, assuming a win Dec. 3, Hoyas get early exposure Dec. 4 on ESPN: final of Wendy's Classic with new Sun Belt member Western Kentucky, host; Northern Iowa and St. Francis (Pa.) . . . ESPN, incidentally, will show tape of the Old Timers baseball here at 8 p.m Wednesday, July 21; 3:30 a.m., July 22; 12:30 a.m., July 26; 4 p.m., July 31--scratching planned July 25 'cast . . .
Bernard Hinault, chasing his fourth Tour de France bicycling title in five years, pedaled into the cumulative lead after the 11th stage--by placing second in a 57.3-kilometer race against the clock. Gerrie Knetemann won in 1:17.29, taking second overall. Phil Anderson, leader for eight days, was 12th and yielded the leader's yellow jersey to Hinault.
Another prominent sports death: John M. Gaver, 82, trainer of top thoroughbreds including Shut Out, Capot, Tom Fool, etc.
Barry Redden, Richmond back drafted No. 1 by Los Angeles, has agreed to Rams terms . . . One of agent Jerry Argovitz's umpteen high picks, Cardinals' No. 1, OT Luis Sharpe of UCLA, accepted St. Louis' offer . . . And another, Baylor running back Walter Abercrombie, Steelers' No. 1, signed a multiyear deal. Now, as Argovitz was saying, if clubs don't satisfy his other clients by tonight, "It's my opinion that July 15 or not, individual negotiations can continue. We then feel that if those players are unsigned after the 15th, they will become free agents, available to the 28 teams in the league" . . .
In Boston, another ex-Red Soxer, another story: Tony Conigliaro vacated hospital this week for a family visit and "amazed" the folks with progress from the long coma that followed his January heart attack. "He's counted numbers, he repeated the alphabet and, believe it or not, we actually sang the alphabet song," said the former baseball slugger's father, Sal. "I tell you, he really is an amazing kid." said the former baseball slugger's father, Sal. "I tell you, he really is an amazing kid."