By Mike Scarr / MLB.comNo 2008 postseason participant has worn more uniforms than Matt Stairs.
The 40-year-old fan favorite, who has endeared himself to 11 different big league cities during his 16-year career, landed in Philadelphia at the end of August 2008. Since his arrival in Philly came two days before Sept. 1, he was eligible to be on the Phillies' postseason roster.
The trip to the postseason was a rare occurence for the Canadian-born outfielder/infielder/designated hitter, who has tasted the playoffs just three times in his Major League career.
Of course, it's really just a matter of circumstance.
Stairs was fortunate enough to be playing at 40. He'll be 41 in the early phases of Spring Training in 2009 if he decides to make another go of it, and the Phillies or some other team has a spot for him.
Then again, seeing as how he's played for nearly a dozen teams since his big league career began in 1992, a more robust postseason portfolio could be expected.
Stairs' first foray in the playoffs came with Boston in 1995. He wasn't with the Red Sox for long that season, appearing in 39 games with the big club between stints in the Minors.
The Red Sox faced the Indians in the 1995 American League Division Series, when Boston was still nine years from seeing its curse lifted and facing a Cleveland team that featured arguably baseball's most imposing lineup of the decade, one that included a young slugger who would become a familiar fixture of future Red Sox clubs, Manny Ramirez.
In that 1995 ALDS, Stairs appeared at both corner-outfield spots for Boston. That earned him one at-bat in the series, resulting in a strikeout with two on in the ninth inning of a tied Game 1. Boston was swept in three games, and Stairs wasn't called on again.
Stairs became a free agent at season's end and moved west to Oakland, where his career gained some momentum. He produced a pair of 100-RBI campaigns and averaged 28 homers during one four-season stretch.
A regular by age 30, Stairs made what was previously his last trip to the postseason with the A's in 2000. He received nine at-bats in their ALDS loss to the Yankees, finishing with a double and a strikeout.
A year with the Cubs was followed by another in Milwaukee and then a season with the Pirates. Stairs hung on in Kansas City for two and a half seasons before splitting the second half of 2006 between Texas and Detroit.
Stairs hooked up next with the Blue Jays and played well enough in 2007 (.289, 28 2B, 21 HR) to earn a two-year deal, but he wound up being a waiver-wire pickup by the Phillies this past August.
A tweak here or there and his career could have been different. Bill James certainly made an interesting case for the possibilities while writing for The Soul of Baseball blog.
"Look at it," wrote James. "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."
He may not be headed for the Hall of Fame, but Stairs still can boast that he's one of just two Canadian Major Leaguers, along with Larry Walker, to have hit at least 200 career homers. Besides, he's more than content with his current situation, which includes an offseason gig of coaching hockey at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, Maine.
"I think my everyday playing time is over, which is fine by me as long as I'm still around and coming up and giving good at-bats pinch-hitting," Stairs said in the National Post. "I enjoy that. And I'm with a great bunch of guys as well."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.