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Jayson Werth explains origin of hulk fist, reminisces about 2008


Without Jayson Werth, the Philadelphia Phillies may not have won the 2008 World Series. Without him, the team may not have had nearly the same level of postseason success that they did between 2007 and 2010, his four years with the organization.

Werth was part of the 2008 Phillies Zoom reunion on Friday, and told a few really funny stories about the team’s World Series run.

Jayson Werth spent four seasons with the Phillies.(Photo by Rich Kane/Icon Sportswire)

In the 14 postseason games that the Phillies played in 2008, Werth started all 14, hitting .309 with two home runs, four RBIs and seven walks. However, the man who would eventually become the franchise’s all-time leader in postseason home runs reminded the world that it took him some time to win Charlie Manuel over:

Werth: Everybody is talking about how positive Chuck was, all I remember was him telling me that I’ll be a good player in like five, six, seven years.

Manuel: Hey J Dubs, you remember when I told you that you have to beat somebody out? I told you that you have to beat somebody out. You said you wanted to play every day, and I said “well then beat somebody out.” You said “how do you do that? I gotta play regularly.” And I said “well, if you play good enough, then you’ll play regularly.” I remember those days.

Werth: Then you’d bench me for four days after I got four hits, I remember those days.

With Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Shane Victorino the starting outfielders in 2007, Werth was an extremely productive fourth outfielder, slashing .298/.404/.459 with eight home runs, 49 RBIs and a 3.2 fWAR in just 94 games.

Still, when Rowand left in free agency after the 2007 season and Victorino shifted to center field, the Phillies didn’t hand Werth the job in right field. Instead, they signed veteran Geoff Jenkins to a two-year/$13 million deal. Though Werth got the start in right field on opening day, Jenkins – who had homered 212 times in 10 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers – started in right field in eight of the team’s first 10 games.

Werth would ultimately seize the starting job in right field, as Jenkins, by and large, didn’t work out as a signing. The Phillies would release Jenkins – despite a giant pinch-hit in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series – before the 2009 season started. Meanwhile, Werth posted a 5.1 fWAR in 2008, a higher mark than Victorino, Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard.

Speaking of Howard, he recalled Werth’s reaction to Chase Utley’s legendary World Series speech, including the hulk hand that Werth says he acquired during the parade:

Howard: I remember, I was sitting next to J Dub, and he had this incredible hulk fist bottle holder with a beer in it, sitting with his shades on. And as soon as Chase said it, he just pops up, hands up in the air like ‘Yes!’

Werth: It’s funny, that hulk fist came out of the second deck when we were driving onto the field. And I somehow caught it, whoever threw it made a great throw and then I put it on as we were in the cars coming around the warning track.

During his seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, Werth developed some bad blood with vocal minorities of the Phillies fanbase. Still, time healed all wounds. Werth homered 95 times in four seasons in Philadelphia, and was a postseason hero. Despite often receiving boos when he returned as an opponent, Werth received a standing ovation when he returned to Citizens Bank Park in August of 2018 as the Phillies celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 team. He, of course, responded simply be raising the red hulk fist in the air to the fans, a sentimental item he once obtained from a Phillies fan himself.

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