Thursday marks 10 years since the Philadelphia Phillies made a seemingly innocent August waiver trade that would have a drastic impact on their franchise’s history.
On August 30, 2008, Pat Gillick traded for veteran power bat Matt Stairs from the Toronto Blue Jays. All the Phillies gave up for Stairs was minor league pitcher Fabio Castro.
Stairs wasn’t an especially noteworthy addition, but the 40-year-old veteran would come up big when he was needed most. He played in 16 regular season games with the Phillies in 2008, batting .294 with two home runs and five runs batted in.
Once the postseason came, Stairs was strictly a power bat on the bench waiting for his name to be called. He only totaled four at-bats in the entire postseason run and only managed one hit. But that one hit turned out to be one of the most important hits in Phillies history.
The Phillies entered the top of the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS down 5-3. The Phillies had taken a 2-0 lead in the series, but the Los Angeles Dodgers were threatening to even the series up after winning Game 3. But after Shane Victorino tied the game with a two-run home run earlier in the inning, Stairs was called upon to pinch hit with a runner on first base and Jonathan Broxton on the mound for the Dodgers.
Stairs was 0-2 in the playoffs heading into the at-bat. Stairs was able to work the count to 3-1 and then magic happened. Broxton threw a 94 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate and Stairs connected with a ball that might not have landed yet. He hit a moonshot over the right field wall, which would give the Phillies the lead and eventually the win:
Thanks to Stairs’ late game heroics the Phillies would win Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Two nights later, they defeated the Dodgers 5-1 to clinch their first National League pennant since 1993. In the World Series, they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games.
Stairs would strike out in his only World Series at-bat, but he was forever cemented into Phillies history with his Game 4 NLCS heroics. Those heroics led to him returning to Philadelphia in 2009. His most notable moment in 2009 was hitting what turned out to be the final home run that Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas would call before his passing:
Stairs parlayed his success with the Phillies into a role as a color commentator for NBC Sports Philadelphia on Phillies telecasts from 2014-2016. Stairs served as Pete Mackanin’s hitting coach for the 2017 season.
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