Kevin 'K.J.' Jones - On the 'Ultimate Road Trip'
By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on May 16, 2006 2:20 PM
He's been everywhere, man. At least it's starting to feel that way for Kevin Jones.
Jones, the Wayne County native who is one of four die-hard Yankees fans who were selected to take the "Ultimate Road Trip," is 12,739 miles into his journey with the Bronx Bombers.
Since the beginning of April, he's been to Oakland, Los Angeles, Toronto, Minneapolis, Boston, Arlington, Dallas and, of course, Yankee Stadium.
He's hung out with Yogi Berra, he's jumped out of an airplane, thrown a football at Texas Stadium, and ridden a mechanical bull where the movie "Urban Cowboy" was filmed.
And that's just for starters.
"I'm enjoying every minute of it," said Jones, who is known as K.J. on the YES Network show.
"I'm having the time of my life. I've seen so many things already, it's like Christmas morning every day, you never know what's going to happen."
A week ago, he got a chance to chat with the incomparable Yogi.
"That was the No. 1 thrill so far, to meet and talk with Yogi Berra," K.J. said. "He's such an icon. He signed a ball for me and we talked about Mickey Mantle, about how he used to go out to dinner with Joe DiMaggio and Mariyln Monroe. He's 80 now, but he's still sharp and in great shape."
And he's still dishing out the Yogi-isms.
"He told me, 'If you come up to a fork in the road, take it," K.J. laughed.
On the show, the four contestants do challenges a-la "Survivor" to win prizes.
"If I collect so many points for winning these challenges, I get a trip to Japan after the season," K.J. said. "So far, I have four points and I have to get to 26, the number of championships the Yankees have won. I won an ice cream eating challenge, and I was second in the rock climbing challenge. It's all fun."
And the skydiving?
"That was scary, skydiving 10,000 feet," K.J. laughed. "I wasn't so keen on that before we did it, I've never done anything like that before, but I'm glad I did it."
Ditto for the bull.
"I'll tell you, I stayed on that mechanical bull at Gilley's for 8.1 seconds," K.J. said. "It was a blast."
And, of course, there are the games.
"Here we are, a little over a month into the season, and the Yankees are right up at the top of the division with the Red Sox," K.J. said. "I've already experienced the Red Sox rivalry in Boston -- it really is unbelievable when these two teams get together. I've seen games in the cold one day, then it will be 89 degrees the next game when we fly out. Being at all the games, you get an appreciation of what these players go through. To play every single day and the toll it takes -- the physical and mental strain. To play when it's cold and raining, or when it's hot."
He's been impressed with the play of Jason Giambi ("I think he has the potential for a special season," K.J. said), Derek Jeter ("He brings his hard hat to work every day."), Alex Rodriguez ("He's the most talented overall, and in the field, he can just pick it."), Robinson Cano ("He's going to be a good one.") and Mike Mussina ("He's a warrior on the mound.").
However, he's a little worried about the 42-year-old Randy Johnson.
"I'm definitely concerned," K.J. said. "His last four starts were un-Big Unit-like. Hopefully, he'll bounce back."
Then there's the city itself.
"Being in the hotbed of New York, there's media scrutiny like no other," K.J. said. "Every game, it's like it's Game 4 of the World Series. Everything is magnified."
But win or lose, K.J.'s having a ball in the Big Apple, and everywhere else.
Thirty-six games down, 126 to go.
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