March 04, 2010
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jayson Werth(notes) worked hard to make himself into an All-Star, but he comes from big-time major league stock in central Illinois. His uncle, Dick Schofield, played 14 seasons in the majors; a grandfather, Ducky Schofield, played 19. His stepfather, Dennis Werth, also had a big league career. His mom competed at the Olympic trials.
Werth wandered around the majors a bit before developing with the Philadelphia Phillies into one of the better offensive players in the league. He's also developed one of the more talked-about beards in the majors. Hesitant to talk about it with others, perhaps Werth would loosen up during a session with the Answer Man? Both men set up shop before a recent spring training workout.
David Brown: It looked like a band of door-to-door batting glove salesmen in the clubhouse yesterday. Whaddya buy?
Jayson Werth: [Laughs]. Didn't buy anything. I'm not in the buying mode; I do that in the offseason. But spring training is definitely like ... it's kind of like the ASA archery show I went to this winter in Columbus [Ohio]. It was like a trade show-like deal where everybody comes to one place and you walk around and see what they got [equipment-wise]. Spring training is like that, too.
DB: It looked like a piece of astronaut equipment they were showing you.
JW: That's the next age of baseball armor.
DB: And that was Reggie Smith selling you the glove! I didn't know he was into that.
JW: I didn't either. You know, it's like, what do you do when you retire? I think my buddy Geoff Jenkins(notes) is helping Marucci going around being a bat rep, trying to help him sell bats. It's one of those things that keeps you busy and you kind of stay in the game.
DB: Speaking of major purchases. It's tax time and I might have a little bit of extra spending cash soon. Let's say I want to go shopping for some new clothes. What can you tell me about Shane Victorino's(notes) new "MMA" line?
JW: [Smiles]. I haven't seen it yet but I've heard that, if my good friend and teammate Shane Victorino is backing it, I can probably vouch for it. At least a little bit. I assume it will be somewhere close to the Affliction line.
DB: Victorino produces Ed Hardy-eque clothing, Jimmy Rollins(notes) is a music mogul, Ryan Howard(notes) makes sandwiches, Charlie Manuel works for Nutrisystem. Cole Hamels(notes) is an actor. What is your second-most marketable skill after baseball?
JW: I actually have a very small, modest company back home and we put on pro and amateur MMA fights. Capital City Cage Wars. It's a couple years old. It's a minor success. It's more for entertainment purposes.
DB: Wait ... your own personal MMA minor league?
JW: We've got a large venue — we bring upward of 2,000 people. We have two or three fighters already in the UFC (including Matt Hughes, a nine-time world welterweight champion). It's actually really cool, because I don't have to go anywhere to see MMA, UFC-style fights. I can watch them, basically, in my backyard.
DB: Also, you said, "archery convention" before?
JW: Mmm, hmm. I do a little huntin'. I've picked up hunting. What do you do when the baseball season's over? It's right in the middle of the rut, so you might as well see if you can't hang something on your wall.
DB: What have you killed?
JW: Nothing, really. I just started.
DB: Just bows and arrows, or do you shoot guns too?
JW: I did a little shotgun hunting — the only kill I did get, a deer, was with a shotgun — but I think the archery hunting is where it's at.
DB: Did you feel bad?
JW: No, 'cause I ate it.
DB: But don't all hunters pass through that, "Oh, I just killed a living thing" moment?
JW: The reason deer hunting is so allowed is, the deer population is completely out of control.
DB: I don't mean from a moral standpoint, but from the nature standpoint, that "something profound has just happened" standpoint.
JW: I'm only helping control the deer population.
DB: OK. Remember those Jayson Werth blankets with the discolored lips the Phillies gave away?
JW: They were terrible.
DB: Did you get to keep any as a souvenir?
JW: Yeah, I got a box full of them.
DB: Maybe give them away at MMA fights?
JW: I haven't, but I have given some to friends and family. The whole thing's kind of embarrassing. Sometimes, the marketing departments are not always in touch with the baseball department.
DB: Did you always like to think that the Springfield from "The Simpsons" was the same one near where you grew up in Illinois?
JW: I never thought that. I ended up being right. We have some similarities. We got a power plant! Right there on the expressway.
DB: But that's not nuclear.
JW: Oh, God no. Ancient. Coal [laughs].
DB: Kind of like people in NYC who've never visited the Statue of Liberty or gone up in the Empire State Building, are you the kind who's never seen the Abraham Lincoln sites?
JW: It's pretty standard field trips in elementary school. I think I've seen them all at least two or three times.
DB: I'm from Chicago. Should I go?
JW: Are you into it?
DB: Actually, yes.
JW: Yeah, it's all right. Lincoln's tomb is cool; Lincoln's home is all right; the new Lincoln memorial library is off the charts. They've got some creative things, like an interactive timeline of the Civil War that shows you at what time who's winning. How many deaths had occurred.
DB: So, how did the Civil War turn out?
JW: It's too early to call.
DB: Is Springfield [Ill.] about the line where Cubs fans end and Cardinals fans start?
JW: Springfield, I'd say, is Cardinal territory but there's lot of Cubs fans.
DB: Does that make you a Cardinals fan growing up?
JW: I was an Angels fan growing up.
DB: [Forgetting a key biographical point about Werth] Because ...
JW: My uncle [Dick Schofield] played for them.
DB: Oh, that's right. I have questions about Dick Schofield. I knew that. That was dumb.
JW: Well ... it was [laughs].
DB: What's it like having a grandpa named "Ducky"?
JW: It's pretty cool and it actually began with his dad, my great-grandfather. He was Ducky [first]. I spent a lot of time [with him] when I was a little kid and he passed away when I was, like, 10. He taught me a lot about baseball, spent a lot of time with me doing hand/eye coordination stuff. When I hear people call my grandfather "Ducky" it makes me think of my great-grandfather. It was good. And he was from the Philly area, actually.
JW: What time you got?
DB: 8:54 [A.M.]
JW: You got three minutes. Two minutes.
DB: With all the athletes in your family, why don't you guys have a traveling softball team that would kick the snot out of everyone?
JW: My grandfather used to play softball and he was still pretty good when he was in his 60s. He could still run the bases well and could hit. But I think he just plays golf now.
DB: There was a story recently about how a Phillies All-Star probably has to hit seventh because the lineup is so stacked. If [GM] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] makes anymore moves, how do you feel about hitting 10th?
JW: [Laughs]. Um, I don't know about that. I'll be excited to see what Charlie [Manuel] does with the lineup.
DB: I heard a story that you visit Yahoo! Sports a lot, including Big League Stew. If we produced a T-shirt, would you wear it without us paying you?
JW: Eh, probably not. I'm just interested in seeing who you guys are blowing up.
DB: Have we ever blown up Jayson Werth?
JW: Not yet.
DB: Until now. But are you at least saying that 'Duk and I deserve raises?
JW: Even in these hard times, I think everybody deserves a raise.
DB: Your beard has opened up a Twitter account. Has the world gone mad?
JW: It's too early to call. I don't know what I think of that stuff. I don't do Twitter or Facebook or anything like that.
JW: [Laughs] I gotta go.
DB: One more!
JW: All right!
DB: Some people think it's fake, the beard. Do you mind if I authenticate it?
JW: Oh, there's plenty of pictures. They'll get to see it, sooner or later.
DB: So I won't be able to ...
JW: [Walking back to clubhouse to grab his gear.] Touch it? You want to touch it?!?! [Laughs]. Oh, now it's really over!
DB: Thanks a lot, Jayson!
JW: Sure thing.
DB: If you get fined for being late, we can just expense it.
JW: I know where to find you.
* * *
Follow David Brown on Twitter @answerdave.
* * *
Previous Answer Men (and Woman):
2010 • Goose Gossage — Feb. 25
* * *