By Mike Scarr / MLB.comThe career path for Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth was defined at an early age.
An investigation of his bloodlines reveals elite
athletes -- many of them baseball players -- at several rungs of the family tree.
Werth's great-grandfather, grandfather and uncle were all ballplayers, as were his stepfather and biological father, Jeff Gowan. His mother, Kim, competed in the 1976 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 meters and the long dash.
So it's hardly a surprise that Werth reached the Majors. As for his participation in the 2008 World Series, a family precedent was set for that, too.
Both his uncle, Dick Schofield, and grandfather, Ducky Schofield, earned World Series rings. Dick, the longtime Angels shortstop, picked up his with the Blue Jays in 1993 (against the Phillies, no less), and Ducky was an infielder on the Pirates team that upset the Yankees in 1960.
Then there is his stepfather, Dennis, who played in parts of four Major League seasons and was a member of the 1981 Yankees squad that lost to the Dodgers in the World Series. It was Dennis who turned Jayson into a catcher at age 12 and helped to guide his future as a player.
But the path to this point for Werth, while long expected, has not always been easy.
Werth signed with the Orioles and progressed methodically before a trade to the Blue Jays in December 2000. He became an outfielder in the Jays organization, and saw his big league career get off to a promising start with two hits in his debut.
During the 2003 season, Werth was on the shuttle between Toronto and the Minors before a March 2004 trade sent him to the Dodgers. That season, he logged 93 games and hit 18 homers, including two in the Dodgers' National League Division Series loss to the Cardinals.
But Werth's career began to veer off course when he was plunked by an A.J. Burnett fastball the following spring. Although he managed to appear in a then-career-high 102 games in 2005, the pain hadn't gone away. Surgery revealed a ligament tear, and the ensuing rehab kept him the disabled list for all of 2006.
The Dodgers did not tender him a contract that December, prompting Werth to question his future.
"There were some things that came out of his mouth, like going to medical school," Dennis Werth told MLB.com. "He was really confused."
Fortunately, there was an interested party at the opposite end of the country. Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who held the same role with the Orioles when Werth joined the organization in 1997, signed the former first-round pick as a free agent.
Werth responded with a career-high 49 RBIs in 2007, and he clubbed 24 homers as a regular in '08 for the Phillies. To top things off, he collected a World Series ring to add to the family collection.
"Things happen for a reason," Dennis Werth said. "I'm glad he's here. He's proven he can play."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.