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Hello! How is everybody doing? I have to go now!

Tampa was the third of Kenny Mayne's four stops Sunday.

By FRANK PASTOR
Published April 26, 2004

[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
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Hello! How is everybody doing? I have to go now!
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TAMPA - The mission was doomed from the start, and Kenny Mayne knew it.

A year ago, the ESPN personality with the deadpan delivery planned a four-city, cross-continent journey starting in New York and ending in Vancouver, where he reported from and interacted in events involving the four major sports.

But he arrived in Vancouver hours after the NHL playoff game between the Canucks and Wild ended. Forced to improvise, he persuaded a custodian to join him in recreating highlights from the game. The two checked each other into the boards, and Mayne capped the evening by reporting from a Zamboni in a corridor of General Motors Place.

"I think we were dead when we took off from New York," Mayne said. "We all kind of knew it. We were just hoping somehow we would make better time going to California and the hockey game would go to overtime."

Having failed to complete the fourth leg of his trip, Mayne tried again Sunday in a feature ESPN called "Unfinished Business."

Traveling by limousine, helicopter, plane and boat, he stopped in New York for the NFL draft, Boston for Game 4 of the Celtics-Pacers NBA East quarterfinal, Tampa for Game 2 of the Lightning-Canadiens East semifinal and Miami for the Marlins-Braves baseball game.

Mayne delivered the card with the first pick of the second day and a cookie to Gene Washington, the NFL's director of football operations, then left for Boston, where he assisted the Celtics' mascot, Lucky, in a stunt.

After arriving in Tampa, Mayne worked with the ice crew during the third and drove the Zamboni after the game.

His day ended in Miami, where he said Friday he hoped to warm up in the bullpen.

Highlights from each stop were shown during the next event, ending with a live report from Mayne recapping the day during the 11 p.m. SportsCenter.

Mayne said the sojourn was not his idea.

"It was ordered on high," he said. "I'm sure the company looks at it as a great tool to promote the fact we carry all those things. We have everything except auto racing in one day. To have one day, one network, loaded with all this stuff is really impressive to all the viewers."

Last year, Mayne took the card with the first pick of the draft's second day to the podium, joined the ball boy crew at the Celtics-Pacers game in Boston and served as the Anaheim Angels' bat boy for their game against Boston before wrapping up the trip in Vancouver.

Though he tried not to interfere with the events, Mayne said not everyone appreciated his presence.

"Somebody on the Angels wasn't really excited I was involved," Mayne said. "He looked at me like, "What is he doing here?' with vulgarity attached to it."

When Mayne returns home today, he will have 18 hours with his family before leaving for Churchill Downs for a week of Kentucky Derby coverage. The highlight will be a 4 p.m. dentist's appointment.

Mayne said he would not have made such a trip as Sunday's on his own.

"I would be home with my family getting ready for the week of the Kentucky Derby," he said. "But anything for the greater glory of ESPN."

- On the Fly focuses on people, scenes and events around the game.

[Last modified April 26, 2004, 01:10:13]

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