The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Why Jayson Werth always tips his hat to Ben Bernanke

Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth (28) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run against the New York Mets during the first inning at Nationals Park. Photo by Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Placeholder while article actions load

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is famous for being a die-hard Nationals fan. But who knew the feeling was mutual?

Bernanke and former White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten often sit near each other during games at Nats Park. At a joint speech Monday at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Bolten divulged that he has noticed Nationals star right fielder Jayson Werth always tips his hat to Bernanke before heading onto the field.

Bernanke offered this explanation: Last year, former Nationals manager Davey Johnson was ushering him around the team's batting practice and introducing him to players. Among them was Werth, whom Bernanke described as a "big tall guy with hair down to his shoulders."

Johnson introduced Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve. Werth repeated the title, as if to make sure he had heard right.

Then, Bernanke recalled, "Jayson looks at me and says, 'Well, what's the deal with QE3 anyway?'"

Since then, whenever Werth sees Bernanke in the stands, he gives him a tip of the hat -- from one great beard to another.

UPDATE: An eagle-eyed reader points out that our ace colleague Dan Steinberg at DC Sports Bog wrote about this conversation from Werth's point of view last year. That account also places the meeting in late 2012. Here's the relevant portion:

“When you play in Los Angeles, you meet movie stars,” Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth says. “When you’re playing in Washington, you meet people that run the world. That’s pretty cool. But you have to win. These people weren’t around last year when we weren’t winning.”
Werth tried to ask Bernanke questions about QE3, the latest round of economic stimulus, but Bernanke preferred balls and strikes, Werth says: “He wasn’t talking about that economic stuff. So we talked about baseball, and it was a hoot.”