Jensen, Jason (2018)
“Jason was a true joy to watch as a member of the Huskies. He was the complete package on the mound. He possessed a tremendous combination of power and expertise on the mound and a sense of calm at all times. Jason could throw the ball
by hitters or he could carve people up like a surgeon. His mound presence was always impressive; total command and calm and he let nothing bother him. He was professional on the hill as a collegiate athlete; it was special. He’s one of the best without a doubt.”
- Al Bean, Athletic Director, USM
Jason played youth baseball in Portland. The biggest influence at this time in his life was his older brother Bobby. They are one year and 7 month’s apart and he was a very good all around athlete. They were constantly playing a sport and Bobby was very competitive. They would play stickball, one on one. Bobby painted a strike zone on a concrete wall and batter’s boxes on the ground. His mother would often ask them not to paint on the wall. From a competitive/ mental toughness sense there was no bigger influence in his life than his brother Bobby.
In the 8th grade Jason played at King Middle School and one of his coaches was Pat Donahue. He pitched in every game that season and finished without a win. Pat always said “I was a strike thrower and my demeanor never changed” no matter what the score or how many times we lost. Jason often tells this story to younger players. He wants them to understand that the game will humble you but learning to turn the page is a big part of being successful and enjoying the game.
That summer Jason played in the Portland Babe Ruth League. It was here he had his first taste of being successful at baseball. Pat Donahue was his coach. When the season ended Pat encouraged him to play on the all-star team. One problem was that his mother did not drive so getting to games and practices was going to be impossible. Pat picked Jason up every day and brought him back home his S10 baby blue Ford truck. He will be ever thankful to Pat who taught him how to turn the page on the field showed him first hand, an act of human kindness.
Jason and Bobby both Played at Portland High School and were very successful. Between high school and Legion ball (Andrews Post) they pitched every other game (9 innings) and they both posted a 7 wins and 2 loss record.
Both Bobby and Jason made the 1993 All Telegram Team as pitchers. It was Bobby who received the prestigious Edson Hadlock Award as the league’s best pitcher. In 1994 Jason was the top pitcher in the newly formed SMAA league. He received the Hadlock Award as the Most Valuable Pitcher. They are the only two brothers to receive this award in league history.
Jason was undecided as to whether he was going to college and play ball. Late in the summer Gary Agger who was a police officer in Portland and someone Jason knew through the police athletic league(PAL) influenced him to go down to the University of New Haven. Gary was friends and a colleague of legendary coach Porky Viera. After visiting and receiving the necessary financial aid Jason decided to attend. After walking on the varsity team that fall he made a tough decision to come closer to home. Jason contacted Mike Rutherford his JV coach at Portland High. Mike introduced him to coach Ed Flaherty. That spring Jason transferred to the University of Southern Maine.
Freshman year he was able make the southern trip to Florida. Upon retuning home he was USM’s midweek starter. Later that season USM made the regional tournament. They had to beat Eastern Connecticut State twice to advance to the College World Series. Coach Flaherty gave him the ball in the first game and USM won 5-2 to force a winner take all game. They lost the second game and their season ended. Jason believes pitching game one that day was a turning point in his baseball career. It set him up for the following season and beyond. From that moment on, every time Coach Flaherty gave him the ball he felt the trust coach had in him. He wanted to do what ever it took to make sure he never took the ball from him.
Sophomore year USM was the number one team in New England. They hosted the regional tournament and fell short where they expected to be. Jason showed steady progress in his development. That summer he played in the NECBL in Worcester Ma. He was named the top Professional Pitching Prospect at the conclusion of the summer.
Going into his junior season Coach Flaherty informed Jason that he thought he would be drafted if he continued on the same path. He also said he was going to use him as a closer when necessary and as much as possible. That season Jason was 9-3 with 9 complete games and 4 saves, compiling 93 innings pitched. He opened the regional tournament with a complete game win against arch rival Eastern Connecticut at Hadlock Field. Jason was on the mound as the closer to save the final game to advance to the Division 3 College World Series. With USM’s offensive power on display in the series, pitching was a lot more comfortable. Jason threw a complete game 7-1win in the opener and a complete game 15-1win in the final to give USM its second National Championship. In the World Series he posted a 2-0 record with a 1.00 Era with 16 strikeouts. Jason was named the MVP of the tournament. He was named to the 1996 and 97 All New England team as well as the Little East player of the year in 1997. Jason graduated from USM in 2002 and was inducted in the Huskey Hall of Fame in 2007.
Six days after the World Series win Jason was called on the opening day of the MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and was selected in the 18th round. He was happy to sign and begin a four year odyssey of playing professional baseball. His most memorable year was 1999. He started out that season in A ball in South Bend Indiana. He was in the bullpen and had a lot of success and was put back in the starting rotation just before the all-star break. He came home that year during the break and missed his flight back to Chicago. When he returned the next day, Jason was expecting a fine for missing a mandatory workout. Walking up to his apartment complex one of his teammates was on the balcony and told him to get to the ballpark because they were sending him to AAA to start the next day. He flew to Tucson Arizona to pitch on Friday night. He pitched 4 2/3 innings in his AAA debut. It was a great experience and from there he moved all over the organization. He went back to South Bend and three days later sent to AA El Paso and finished the season in High A ball in California. He has countless friendships that still remain strong today sharing that dream to play in the big leagues.
After Jason’s playing days were over he returned to USM and finished getting a degree. At this time he also began his coaching career. He was an assistant coach at the University for one year. He started to work with high school players with a few of his college teammates. He began to think about coaching as a career to give back to the game and working with kids from Maine. In 2011 Jason began coaching at Bowdoin College as a part time assistant. He was able to somehow balance the college schedule, full time job, and a growing family mainly because his wife Natasha knew what baseball meant to him. He is extremely grateful of her support at this time. In 2015 Jason became a full-tine assistant at the college.
Jason and Natasha have four daughters: 9 year old twins Jenna and Jaelyn, 7 year old Josie, and 2 year old Jaclyn. His days are filled with recruit emails, planning for incoming classes, and coaching whatever seasons his daughters are involved in. He hopes to remain coaching for the rest of his working days. He truly believes he will not be able to give as much back to the game as baseball has given him. Jason is a true throwback who began playing stickball with his brother, was winless in middle school, to become a National Champion in college and pitching at the AAA level in professional baseball. He is a most deserving of being the newest member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bowdoin Polar Bear Profile
Jason Jensen has been the pitching coach for Bowdoin College since the spring of 2011. A 1997 graduate of the University of Southern Maine, he helped lead the Huskies to the NCAA Championship that spring and was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He was subsequently drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he pitched four seasons, reaching as high as the AAA level. In 2007, he was inducted into the USM Athletics Hall of Fame.
Portland Press Herald Maine's Homegrown Talent
GORHAM — Forrest Chadwick was playing summer baseball for the Lakeshore Chinooks in Mequon, Wisconsin, a couple of summers ago when some fans asked him where his home was.
“Maine,” said Chadwick, a Gardiner resident who’s a senior outfielder for the University of Southern Maine.
“Maine?” they asked, almost incredulously. “You guys even have baseball there?”
Well, yes, they do. And they play it quite well.
From Maine Hits
University of Southern Maine
1997 NCAA Division III Baseball National Championship
Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament
World Series 2-0 record (1.00 ERA, 16 strike outs)
1997 and 1996 All-New England Team
All-Little East Conference Honors 1997
All Time USM Records
Complete Games Pitched – 9
Innings Pitched – 93
Strikeouts in a Season – 82
USM Career: 18-7 record in 28 games started with a 3.73 ERA
Arizona Diamond Backs
Pitched for four seasons with the Diamondbacks AAA Affiliate Tucson Sidewinders