On October 13th in 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club found themselves at a potential crossroads.
With the game tied in the 8th inning 5-5, they were battling the LA Dodgers for the chance to advance to the World Series. Lose this game and the series would head back to Philly tied at two games apiece.
History will show that a veteran journeyman will march to the plate and hit a Jonathan Broxton pitch into orbit sending the Phillies on to victory that night. It was a huge assist in the team's march to eventually be World Champs in 2008, the franchise's first title since 1980.
The 2008 season brought many home runs to Phillies fans, but many believe THAT particular home run by Matt Stairs is one of the biggest moments in Phillies history. In fact, many Phillies faithful believe the ball that Stairs hit is STILL circling the earth somewhere and it’s become a bit of a fun "old wives tale" in that respect.
Matt's career amazingly spanned from his rookie season in 1992 to when he finally announced his retirement this past off-season after spending the 2011 year with the Washington Nationals. He played for an incredible 13 different teams over the 19 year career.
Talk about a guy who gets around?
I actually feel partly responsible for getting him that last year with the Nationals.
I had booked Matt at a show in Valley Forge during the off-season following the 2010 year. The Padres had just released Matt and it looked like his career might be over.
That day we had all heard the incredible news about Jayson Werth being signed to his mega-millions contract by the Nats. Many people don't know this, but Werth used to regularly turn to Matt whenever his swing wasn't quite right, asking for advice as to what he was doing wrong.
Also attending the show that day was Nationals assistant to the GM and ex Phillies great, Bob Boone.
I introduced myself to Bob and told him that Matt Stairs wanted to come over and say hello. I also happened to mention how close Matt and Jayson have been over the years.
Boone looked up from signing autographs and said, "Oh really? Matt's here? I'd love to say hello."
A phone call by me to Bob Garber (Matt's agent at the time) telling him about the days' events, and the next thing you know, Matt's signed by the Washington Nationals! How about that?
Well guess what? Matt may be on the move again, and he MIGHT be headed back to Philadelphia.
Matt has done some work this season for the Boston Red Sox TV network helping out with postgame and pregame coverage. He's also been appearing on the MLB radio network fairly regularly as a correspondent adding his expert opinion about the state of baseball today.
Next week, Stairs returns to Philly for a VERY busy weekend. On Friday 5/18, he is tentatively scheduled to be sitting in for a couple of hours with Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano on WIP radio from their Chickie’s and Pete's location in South Philly.
Could this be an audition? How would the sports fans of the city feel about one of its 2008 championship baseball heroes back in town doing radio?
Obviously there would be lots needed to make that a reality, but you never know.
On Saturday, May 19th, Matt is headed to a return engagement at one of AllStarInc's favorite venues, Carl's Cards & Collectables, 22 West Eagle Rd. in Havertown PA. Stairs appears at CCC from Noon to 1:30 P.M. Long time Phillies player, Terry Harmon (2B/SS) will also be there from Noon to 2:00 P.M. You can go to www.carlscards.com or call 610-789-4996 for more information and to order autograph tickets.
On Sunday, May 20th and Monday, May 21st, Matt will be taking part in Ron Jaworski's Celebrity Golf Challenge in Atlantic City. All the proceeds from this charity event benefit the Jaws Youth Playbook. Their mission is to “improve the overall health and wellness of at-risk youth in the Philadelphia region.” A big fan of charity, Matt helps a great deal with the SPCA of Canada. Helping Jaws (another AllStarInc client, of course) raise money for kids was a "no brainer" AND he gets to play some golf, too! For more information on Jaworski’s charity event, you can visit the website at www.jawscelebritygolf.com.
Since his retirement, Stairs has been bitten by the golfing bug and now plays whenever and wherever possible. Between hitting the links and still playing ice hockey at 6 AM daily, one might wonder how he has time for anything else...or how he can even walk the next morning!
In a ceremony on June 9, Matt will be inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. When I heard about the honor, I told Matt that I didn't even know he was a bowler (Brunswick® is one of the leading makers of bowling balls)!
Matt replied "It's NEW Brunswick and it's a province in Canada, you dope."
I actually knew that, but I enjoy the chance to kid him whenever possible. It's Matt's sense of humor that makes him a really fun guy to be around and it's that personality that I think will make him a very successful media personality.
I once asked Matt which team was his favorite to play for, and he surprisingly answered "It has to be the Oakland A's..... because that's when I was actually good."
He followed that with, "But the year or so in Philly was awesome! You can't beat the feeling winning a championship gives you. And, the fans have never let me forget how thankful they are. Phillies fans are really great fans."
Remember that Matt only played two other post season series during the rest of his entire career; once in 1995 with the Red Sox, and then again in 2001 with the A's. Both times his team was bounced immediately.
A year and three months in Philly and he got the chance to play in TWO World Series, including the winner in 2008.
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