Jeff Kent’s roots in the bay area are double-tiered. He played on two teams that went to the World Series – the giants in 2002 and Cal in 1988 – and made an impact on both as a power-hitting middle infielder. To acquire Kent, the giants traded popular Matt Williams, and the deal paid off as Kent hit .297 and averaged 29 home runs and 115 RBI’s in his six years in San Francisco. The second baseman ushered in brand new pacific bell park in 2000 by winning the National League’s MVP award and teamed with Barry Bonds for one of the game’s most potent 1-2 punches. He learned to hit to all fields as a giant, and it showed with spikes in his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Hard on himself and driven, Kent earned respect in the clubhouse with his no-nonsense approach, which might have turned off some, but he’d be the first to say he was more about performing than cuddling up to teammates or the media. In his 17-year career, Kent hit 351 of his 377 homers as a second baseman, breaking Ryne Sandberg’s record, was a five-time all-star and retired ranking 20th all-time in doubles, 47th in RBI’s and 62nd in homers. Aside from the giants, he played for the Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Astros and Dodgers. He reached the playoffs seven times with four teams and collected nine homers and 23 RBI’s in 49 postseason games. Through it all, he supported women’s athletics at Cal with scholarship programs and was among the first players to push for a strict testing policy for performance-enhancing drugs.
Inducted into the BAY AREA SPORTS HALL OF FAME – 2016
Narrative by John Shea