For Kent, it was about how others saw him and his focus on playing, according to The AP.
"If you allow yourself as a player to get emotionally involved in every little thing that happens, I don't think you can stay as consistent as you ought to in this game," Kent told The AP. "I wanted other people to perceive me as a guy who was level emotionally."
Kent spoke to The AP on the occasion of his retirement after 17 seasons in the majors. He hit 377 major league home runs and knocked in 1,500 runs, all while cultivating a certain reputation as a loner in the clubhouse, among other terms.
But Kent also made it onto five All-Star teams, won the 2000 National League MVP award and has remained on the Hall of Fame ballot through five cycles, hovering around 15 percent of the vote.
Kent's long career in baseball began in 1989, taken by the Blue Jays in the 20th round of the draft out of the University of California-Berkeley.
Kent started with the Blue Jays at short-season St. Catharines, then hit high-A Dunedin in 1990. He went 2 for 3 in a May game, with a run scored. He then made AA Knoxville in 1992 and Toronto to start 1992.
He got into 65 games for the Blue Jays before being traded to the Mets for David Cone. He then stayed in Queens as the Mets' starting second baseman into 1996. He hit 20 home runs in a year twice there. In April 1994, Kent explained his approach to The New York Times.
"I'm a negative guy," Kent told The Times. "I'm not a positive guy. That's what motivates me -- the negatives of the game. The fear of failure, the embarrassment of failure, the fear that I'll let my teammates down -- all that drives me."
Kent finished out 1996 with Cleveland, then moved to the Giants in 1997. He stayed in San Francisco for six seasons. He earned his first All-Star selection in 1999, his first of three-straight such nods. In 2000, he hit 33 home runs, knocked in 125 runs and hit .334 en route to the MVP award.
Kent earned two more All-Star births in 2004 with the Astros and 2005 with the Dodgers. He continued playing through 2008. He ended with 2,298 games played and a career .290 average.
Reflecting on his career and his chances at the Hall of Fame in 2018 to MLB.com, Kent believed he might fare better if he played at another time.
"I wish I would have played in a different era," Kent told MLB.com. "I stayed relatively healthy. I had a few injuries here and there; that comes with playing the middle of the infield. For those people that are out there, what I want them to know is, I wasn't anybody special where I came from. But hard work can pan out. It did for me and I hope it satisfies people."
- New York Times, April 22, 1994: Kent Accepts Nothing but Perfection
- ESPN, Associated Press, Jan. 23, 2009: Kent retires after 17 seasons
- MLB.com, Jan. 25, 2018: Kent on career, Hall of Fame
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,897
Made the Majors:1,079-37.3%-X
Never Made Majors:1,818-62.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 447
10+ Seasons in the Minors:270-X