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Former MLB player didn't get recognized while on ‘Survivor’

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 7:34 a.m. MDT

Jeff Probst exstinguishes Jeff Kent's flame during Tribal Council on the eighth episode of Jeff Probst exstinguishes Jeff Kent's flame during Tribal Council on the eighth episode of "Survivor: Philippines," one Wednesday, Nov. 7 on the CBS Television Network. (CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

Even though Jeff Kent was successful in keeping his identity as a National League MVP a secret on “Survivor: Philippines,” he had a few baseball analogies when he was voted off the island by his fellow castaways on Day 22 of the 39-day game.

“I’m a Game 7 World Series loser,” said Kent, who played Major League Baseball for 17 years on a half dozen teams. “I’ve played in the biggest games in the world and the worst games in the world. …

“I wanted to win this game,” the 44-year-old said of “Survivor,” which he has been a longtime fan of, jumping at the chance to be on the show.

The game of “Survivor” didn’t turn out the way he thought it would for him.

Jeff Kent becomes the next evicted survivor during Tribal Council on the eighth episode of Jeff Kent becomes the next evicted survivor during Tribal Council on the eighth episode of "Survivor: Philippines," Wednesday, Nov. 7. (CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

Kent knew 15 minutes before Tribal Council on Wednesday’s episode that his name was being thrown around to be voted off the island.

“I was scrambling,” said Kent, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Austin Texas Oak Hills Stake.

He said during a conference call he had tried in the previous day and a half to talk to people and form some sort of offensive plan, but most people wanted to wait and see what happened.

In those 15 minutes, he talked to others whose names were being thrown around and they quickly devised a plan to vote six for 24-year-old Pete Yurkowski.

Had he known earlier, “no doubt I would have pulled out everything” to save himself.

But Kent said the numbers weren’t there to split the vote.

Jeff Kent of the Kalabaw Tribe during the Immunity Challenge on the second episode of Jeff Kent of the Kalabaw Tribe during the Immunity Challenge on the second episode of "Survivor: Philippines," Wednesday, Sept. 26 on the CBS Television Network. (Monty Brinton, CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

When it came down to the last vote and host Jeff Probst looked at Yurkowski, Kent said he knew the last vote was for him.

“I was in a laughable shock,” Kent said of the experience of being voted out.

As Kent walked away, “that whole game ran through my mind.

“I got home and was going through the names,” Kent said. “I figured it was (returning players Michael) Skupin and (Jonathan) Penner and I figured out who it was.”

And it was 50-year-old Skupin’s vote to send Kent packing that was a surprise.

But Kent never voted for Penner at any Tribal Council meetings, and shared information with him, including when Penner might need to play his idol.

“Penner tried to play both sides of the fence,” Kent said. “But I got burned.”

Jeff Kent of the Kalabaw Tribe during the fifth episode of Jeff Kent of the Kalabaw Tribe during the fifth episode of "Survivor: Philippines," which aired Wednesday, Oct. 17 on the CBS Television Network. (Monty Brinton, CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

Several underestimated 49-year-old Lisa Welchel and her relationship with Skupin as she found out about 25-year-old Malcolm Freberg’s immunity idol and quietly used that to her advantage.

Both Freberg and Abi-Marie Gomes, 32, admitted they had the immunity idols at Tribal Council. Kent wasn’t surprised when Freberg announced he had an idol as a move to deflect any potential votes in his direction. And Gomes’ reveal was likely an emotional decision to not be outdone, he added. Neither played their immunity idols that night.

It was 28-year-old Sarah Dawson who came the closest to recognizing Kent from baseball, and she constantly made needling remarks about sports. Kent didn’t realize that Dawson knew who he was until he watched the show.

But he was worried that Penner might have recognized him.

Jeff Kent, a retired Major League Baseball player currently living in Austin, Texas, was voted off of Jeff Kent, a retired Major League Baseball player currently living in Austin, Texas, was voted off of "Survivor: Philippines" and became the second member of the jury. (Monty Brinton, CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

“Penner said one of his favorite teams was the Dodgers,” said Kent, who once played for Los Angeles.

“I was able to play like everybody else,” he said of his anonymity. He told his fellow castaways he had a ranch in Texas and was a motorcycle dealer — both of which were true.

He didn’t recognize Welchel, a former star on “The Facts of Life,” but did have some recognition that she was someone with a bit more fame than the others.

Kent had torn his MCL on that first day of competition when he jumped off the boat onto the raft and the medical personnel confirmed that when he was examined at Ponderosa.

“I knew I hurt it and it hurt bad,” he said. He had knee surgery about eight months before going on the show. It rained for several days and he got to rest his knee, as they couldn’t do much at their camp.

It was during the challenges that involved running in the mud where he wasn’t necessarily 100 percent.

“I just banged it up,” he added.

Now, he’s part of the “Survivor: Philippines” jury and it’s the jury members who will ultimately vote among the last three who will be the sole survivor and win $1 million. Jury members observe Tribal Councils, but don’t participate until the final one.

Which means he had plenty of time at Ponderosa — eating three meals a day, reading books and magazines, listening to music on his iPod while spending time poolside.

“I was pulling my hair out,” Kent said as the group was fairly sequestered while at Ponderosa.

Kent plans on looking at who has earned the title and trophy, and not necessarily who needed the money more.

And now, he’s rooting for 24-year-old Carter Williams. Williams and Kent have trusted each other through the game.

“I don’t think there is anyone on there that had the trust relationship that we did,” Kent said of Williams.

Being a Mormon didn’t come up on the show as religion really didn’t come up among the castaways he was with, but he did try to portray himself as having Christian values and apologized in one of the online video interviews for having to lie.

“I’m not angry about it and I’m not vindictive,” Kent said during the conference call. “I wish that I would have won.”

Email: rappleye@desnews.com

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