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Book Excerpts Small Hotel Rooms Pete Runnels and the Hypnotist

Jackie Jensen was a great ball player, but there seemed to be very little about the life that a ball player lived that appealed to him. In the mid-fifties, as baseball teams started moving into the west, teams had to fly to make schedules. Jackie hated flying and between a marriage going bad and flying, the thrill (if there ever was one for him) was gone completely and he retired.

Pete Runnels and I were distraught. What the hell were we going to do about great dinners in fancy restaurants with Jensen gone. Jensen, who owned the Bow & Bell Restaurant in Jack London Square in Oakland, was normally afforded complimentary or reciprocal dining opportunities in the finest eateries across the land. At worst, he would flash his credit card and pass it off as deductible. Pete and I were his constant companions in cities like New York, where we would chat with the likes of Robert Preston, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sterling Haden in Danny’s Hideaway, which featured no menu. Just order and they would get it.

The Red Sox 1960 spring training was in Scottsdale, Arizona and our first exhibition game after breaking camp was to be in Las Vegas. Pete and I couldn’t stand it so we wired Jackie. “Meet us in Las Vegas and bring your credit card.” Then we sent a second one that read, “If you can’t make it, send the card!”

Damn if he didn’t show up. After the game, we took Don Buddin (shortstop) along and went onto the strip and had dinner in a fine restaurant with Dr. Arthur Allen (hypnotist) who had tried to help Jackie with the flying problem. Pete, after a couple of drinks, started to question the doctor because as far as Pete was concerned hypnosis was bull#$@%. Finally, Pete let the doctor know what he thought and, I assure you, it wasn’t complimentary. So, nothing to do but go to his show and see what would happen. True to his word, Dr. Allen put us on the stage and before Pete could finish telling me this guy was full of %$#@ he was out cold. I turned to my right to tell Buddin but it was no use. Everyone but me was out of it. Dr. Allen then put his hand on my forehead but it was no use. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. It just didn’t work. Probably too dense.

At any rate, he had them do silly things and then started waking them up one at a time. When he got to Pete and, before he woke him up, he placed his hand on Pete’s head and told him he would have the best baseball season of his career and for him to just relax and enjoy it. We barely got out of the place before Pete started talking about the guy being full of #$@% again. In fact he never would concede that the man was legitimate, even after I told him what he had been doing on the stage, but he won the American League batting title that season.

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