The Hall of Could Have Been (The Soul of Baseball)
I’ll let Joe Posnanski explain:
Might be in the Hall of Fame if: I’ll let Bill explain.
“Look at it. Somebody decided he was a second baseman, he tears through the minor leagues, gets to Montreal, the Expos take one look at him and say, ‘He’s no second baseman, get real.’ He bounces around, goes to Japan, doesn’t really get to play until he’s almost 30, then hits 38 homers, slips into a part-time role and hits 15-20 homers every year for 10 years in about 250 at-bats a season. … You put him in the right park, right position early in his career … he’s going to hit a LOT of bombs.”
What can you say? It’s all there. Stairs did not get 500 at-bats until he was 30 — he had a .370 OBP that year, hit 26 homers, drove in 106. The next year, he had the 38-homer season. His average dropped the next season, and he never got 500 at-bats in a season after that.
A Big Hit (Sports Illustrated)
Former winter league teammate Kevin Millar shares a wonderful anecdote:
Stairs came. The opening game of Los Mayos’ 1995 season was in Mazatlan. Kevin Millar, a 26-year-old infield prospect for the Florida Marlins who has been Stairs’s teammate in Navojoa for three seasons, remembers the day well. “I’d never met Matt,” says Millar. “He was supposed to hit fourth that day, but it was 20 minutes before the game and he hadn’t shown up. It got to be 10 minutes before game time, then five, and still no Matt. Finally, when the umpires were meeting at home plate, this guy walked into the dugout wearing jeans and boots and smoking a cigarette. He just pulled on his uniform, went up there and yanked a home run. I was like, Who the f—is this guy?”
Matt Stairs solidifies place as greatest journeyman slugger (Sports Illustrated)
Posnanski again, this time in his own words:
On Sept. 28 Stairs faced Washington rookie pitcher Marco Estrada, who became an unwitting partner in history. Sort of. Estrada threw the slider that did not slide, and Stairs unleashed the hangover swing he picked up one too-bright and too-early morning in Tucson. He yanked the ball into the right field seats. He stomped around the bases. That was the 254th home run of Matt Stairs career.
And with that, Stairs became the greatest journeyman slugger in history.
Phillies Have an Unlikely Mr. October (New York Times)
Stairs was profiled in the NY Times following his 08 heroics in the NLCS, revealing his valuable veteran leadership, as well as a great nickname:
The toast of Philadelphia is a balding hockey player with a squat body who was once nicknamed the Wonder Hamster. He swings from his heels and used to drink beer with his boss, but he takes his job seriously and has no desire to ever take off his uniform. He learned patience, he said, from having daughters ages 17, 15 and 11.
Stairs was an ideal leader for the young Royals, Baird said, never lecturing his teammates but knowing how to get points across. Baird said he knew then that Stairs could be an ideal manager someday.
“His approach coming to the ballpark every day just doesn’t change,” Baird said. “The people that are respected in this game are consistent in their character, and that’s the way he is. He’s all about substance; he’s not about style. He just gives you an honest day’s work, every single day.”
Phillies Receive a Boost From an Unlikely Source (New York Times)
Apparently, people call him a professional hitter.
“They don’t call him a professional hitter for no reason,” said the Phillies’ Shane Victorino, who lashed a two-run, game-tying homer before Stairs’s blast. “To do what he does at the age of 40, I’m smiling two times bigger because I feel so good for him.”
Players by birthplace : Canada Baseball Stats and Info (Baseball-Reference)
Here are Stairs’ rankings for Canadian baseball players (he’s Canadian, by the way):
- Games: 2nd (1761)
- Home runs: 2nd (259)
- Strike outs: 2nd (1067)
- Base on balls: 3rd (697)
- Slugging %: 7th (.481)
- OPS: 7th (.481)
And Stairs accomplished all of this without receiving serious playing time till age 29.