Boston … home of one of the nation’s most beloved baseball franchises: The Boston Red Sox. A place soaked with stories of greatness, tragedy, nostalgia and, most importantly, inspiration. Two players come to mind out of the many that have played here. One you see everyday, whether it be driving on Comm. Ave, or a student heading to class at Boston University. The second being an award named after this man and given to a Red Sox player that showed amazing spirit and heart through out the season. Their names are Harry “ the Golden Greek “ Agannis and Jackie Jensen. Harry Agannis was a hometown boy from Lynn, MA, and of Greek origin. His career started at Boston University where he became a football star as a quarterback setting a school record of throwing fufteen touchdown passes in 1949. He entered the Marine Corp, was discharged, finished college in 1951-52 only to become the schools forst All American in football.
Skilled also in baseball, he decided to sign with Red Sox after Sox owner Tom Yawkey outbid the football team the Cleveland Browns. Having a great rookie year tragedy struck. In 1955, Agannis would be hospitalized with pneumonia and, later that month, would die of a pulmonary embolism … 10,000 people attended the wake. In 2004, an arena would be built on his old stomping ground and named after him in his honor: Agannis Arena. As a favor to us at Through The Fence Baseball, if you pass through, or go to an event at the Agannis Arena, please tip your cap.
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The second part of this has some similarities to the first, which I hope you find interesting. Born Jack Eugene Jensen in San Francisco on March 9, 1927, Jackie served in the military (Navy). He would become an All-American in football and baseball at the University of California, pitch in and help win the College World Series in 1947, lead his team undefeated to the Rose Bowl, and place fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting during his junior year. He left college after that to sign with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. He would play in the majors for three teams, but primarily for the Red Sox from 1954-59, followed by a comeback in 1961. He was a three-time All-Star, a World Series winner, a Gold Glove winner and the 1958 AL MVP. Throughout his MLB career he would lead the league in several categories in single seasons.
He would also be the first player to play in the Rose Bowl, World Series and All-star game. He retired in his early thirties, due to missing his family as well as a chronic fear of flying. After trying several unsuccessful methods to cure his phobia, he realized that it was too much and called it quits. He died of a hear attack at age 55 and would be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2000. The Baseball Writers Association of America decided to give award every year to the Major League player that displayed spirit and determination. These two men displayed passion for sports and their country, which I hope will inspire your love of baseball as well as your life in general as it has mine.