Beloved everyman Matt Stairs turns 47 today. In honor of his birthday, here are 12 facts you should know about our ever-quotable, beer-swilling international hero:
1. Why 12? Because he wore that number with over half of the teams he played for: the Athletics, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Phillies, and Nationals. He also wore 3, 11, 16, 24 (with three teams), 25 (two teams), 30, 35, and 59.
2. While Stairs didn't homer as a member of the Expos or Nationals he did hit at least one as a member of all the aforementioned teams, along with the Red Sox, Cubs, Tigers, Blue Jays, and Padres. If you lost count, that's 11 teams he's hit one out for and, yes, that's a record. He shares it with Todd Zeile but, hey, it's still a record.
3. Stairs is best known as a pinch hitter, designated hitter, and corner outfielder, but he actually played every position except pitcher, catcher, and shortstop at some point. He played three innings in center field over two games in 1999 and 2000 with the A's and one inning at second base with the Cubs in 2001. Third base is a bit of a stretch since the two appearances he made there happened during his brief time in Japan, in 1993.
4. Interestingly, although shortstop was one of the few positions he didn't play in the bigs, Stairs was named the top shortstop in the 1988 Baseball World Cup and played there occasionally during his first two minor league seasons (1989 and '90). In that time he was utilized mostly as a third baseman and also appeared at second. He was converted to a full-time outfielder in 1992.
5. In addition to homering for the most teams, Stairs has also hit the most pinch-hit home runs in MLB history. In 2010, as a member of the Padres, he broke Cliff Johnson's record of 20. Stairs extended the record to 23 by season's end.
6. A star hockey player as a youth, the born-and-raised Canadian still has puckhandling in his blood. Before signing with the Padres, Stairs spent the winter of 2009-'10 playing in a senior hockey league.
8. He is second behind former Expos teammate Larry Walker in both games played and home runs hit by a Canadian major leaguer.
9. In 1991, the year before his MLB debut, Stairs was named the MVP of the AA Eastern League. In 505 at-bats over 129 games he slashed .333/ .411/ .509 with 30 doubles, 10 triples, and 13 homers. Along with that bevy of three-baggers, he also stole 23 bases; both were career-highs at any level of pro ball.
10. Those 23 steals were just seven shy of the 30 he stole in his 19-year major league career. The most he stole in a big league season was eight, in 1998 with Oakland.
11. Stairs reached the postseason four times: in 1995 with the Red Sox, 2000 with the A's, and, most famously, 2008 and 2009 with the Phillies. His famous game-winner off Jonathan Broxton in the '08 NLCS was his only home run in 24 postseason at-bats in eight series over four seasons. The icing on the top of that homer was his quote afterward:
12. As great of a sound-bite as that is, another Stairs quote takes the cake, icing and all:
"Swing like you live — hard."