A FORMER Major League Baseball star visited the Philippines recently, but not to hold clinics, promote a shoe brand or go on a vacation.
Jeff Kent, a former San Francisco Giants star who was the MVP of the National League in 2000, was in the country as one of the contestants of the hit reality television series Survivor, which taped its latest edition in the quaint municipality of Caramoan in Camarines Sur.
The 44-year-old Kent was among the 18 castaways who joined the 25th season of the show titled Survivor: Philippines, which will premier throughout the world on September 19 (September 20, Manila time).
“I will win Survivor because I'm the best competitor out here,” Kent told Entertainment Weekly in an interview that was picked up by various sports websites in the United States. “I've been competing my whole life. That's what I do. I'm not here for any TV stardom. Not here to look good on TV.”
Kent spent a 16-year MLB career bouncing around six teams but he will be most remembered for his MVP season with the Giants. The five-time All-Star is also the all-time leader in home runs among second basemen with 377.
Here's Kent in Caramoan with the rest of the castaways:
Kent actually is not the first former superstar athlete who visited our shores with only a few people taking notice. Here are some of them.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey visited the Philippines in February of 2011 through the initiative of the United States Embassy where he conducted clinics in Manila and Cebu. Junior didn't turn a lot of heads here, but he is big back home. When he retired in 2010, he was the fifth all-time leader in home runs in the major leagues. Only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays had hit more home runs than Griffey. A year removed from playing, Griffey wowed baseball fans by doing batting practice at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium and hit home runs out of the same ballpark where legends like Ruth and Lou Gehrig onceplayed.
Here is a YouTube video of Griffey hitting home runs at the Rizal ballpark:
Long before he made in college football and in the National Football League, Tim Tebow has already been doing evangelical work in Mindanao. The former Denver Bronco and now New York Jet was actually born in Makati to missionaries where he spent his first three years of his life in the Philippines and has come back every year since he was 15, according to a story of Yahoo! Sports’ ThePostGame.
“I will always have a special place in my heart for the country where I was born,” Tebow said in the same story.
While the 2012 Formula One season is ongoing, McLaren driver Jenson Button took time out to make a trip to Cebu to compete in the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines event early this month. Button didn’t grant interviews to local media but expressed his affection to the country via his Twitter account.
Long before Usain Bolt, there was Carl Lewis as the spring king in the Olympics. Last April, Lewis attended a forum sponsored by the Asian Development Bank. The sprinter was the special guest of ADB’s Asian Irrigation Forum being the Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Here’s a YouTube video of Lewis’ visit courtesy of ADB.