Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

Former Major League Matt Stairs is a legend in Philadelphia for his towering home run off Jonathan Broxton in a key moment during the 2008 NLCS. Just a few weeks ago, he was named one of the new color commentators for the Phillies’ telecasts. On Friday, the WCUR radio show Brotherly Love Sports Talk had an opportunity to talk with him about his new job and his legendary homer. Below are excerpts from the interview with the questions in bold and answers in quotes.

You mentioned you are on the way to Clearwater, you and Jamie Moyer will be two new broadcasters this year. Are you excited to finally get things going?

“I’m very excited. It should be a blast. It’s going to be different at first for both Jamie and I because we have never really done this before. It’s probably going to take a couple of innings to get used to it but we are both guys that have been around the game for a long time and know the game well. Jamie is more of a straight level guy that is straight to the point, I’m the type of guy that is going to be the comic relief in the booth and have fun with it, and be straight as well. I’m going to tell the people what is going on and that’s what it should be. That’s what the listeners deserve to hear.”

Jamie is a guy that is known for his wisdom and people saw a coach or commentator written on him a long time ago. What is it going to mean to be next to him?

“It’s going to be nice. Jamie and I played against each other back in the mid 90s when he was with Seattle and I was with Oakland, and we have been friends for many years. I think with his wisdom of pitching and my wisdom of hitting—and some people may not believe but I also know about defense as well—it’s a good group and I think it’s going to be a good chemistry with Tom and we are going to have fun with it.

What was the appeal of broadcasting to you, you only retired a few years ago what made you want to come right to the booth?

“I had a chance to go home and sit and think about it, and when I did the NESN job a few years ago with the Red Sox I enjoyed it. Doing a TV game or broadcasting on the radio or whatever you are going to do, it’s just like a bunch of people sitting around the house watching the game and talking during the game. I enjoy watching baseball and I enjoy talking about baseball, so to me it’s not really a job if I’m spending a couple of hours with the buddies watching the game and talking about what is going on. I’m looking forward to it and it should be fun.”

The two of you join the booth as part of the 2008 World Series team, which is feeling more and more distant for fans. Do you think having the two of you back together in the booth will resonate with them and create some excitement?

“Well, I guess it really depends on how well Jamie and I do and it depends on how good the team does. I think when we both did our interviews it was hard to make a decision and they thought ‘you know what, let’s just make this kind of around the 2008 World Series team’. It was only five years ago, but I think it is something that brings the hype and a positive atmosphere in the booth and [we will talk] about what we went through and the stories about what we did. I think the ’08 guys with Jamie and myself brings that ‘Hey, we got a couple of guys that won the World Series, we know what it took to get there’ and hopefully we can carry that over with the broadcast.”

There are still several guys, core guys, that were on that team who have kind of been written off, whether it be for age or injuries. What do you have to say about that? What do you think they have left?

“Well I think the biggest thing is their health. They have to stay healthy enough to compete. With age it gets a lot tougher and you kind of slow down a little bit but these guys are what, still in their low 30s, mid 30s? I mean they are still young and I wish I had that spunk when I was that age. They are fine. The dog days, with the night games then day games might be a good time to give some guys a day off because it’s probably going to come down to the final [month] when you have to play 25 games straight. I have seen these guys and as long as they are healthy they can go out there and produce and create some offense and play solid defense.”

Your classic home run, that was your first post season home run, what was it like in such a big moment coming through like that off the bench?

“Well I was swinging the bat pretty well in the remainder of the season in September, and I didn’t get an opportunity a whole lot in the playoffs because of the fact we had a powerhouse team then and I didn’t need to play. But in that situation, with Victorino getting the big two-run home run and Chooch with the big base hit to left field and they bring in Broxton, I think the stage was set for them and you just have to have [perfect timing. He missed with the 3-1 spot. He actually hit my happy spot down and in and everyone knows what else happened there. It was a boom shot to right field that everyone talks about.  It was something that was very special. It woke me up, woke the team up and pissed off the people in L.A. so I was pleased.”

After you hit the homer, when did you realize the type of legend that you would become?

“I think it was really after we got to the World Series and won the World Series. I think if I was an everyday player and I hit the home run it might have been a little bit different. But being a pinch-hitter coming off the bench and hitting such an important home run for a team I think made it much more special. The phone blew up, the texts blew up after the game and everyone was reaching out to you. The emails are coming into the organization to pass along congratulations so I knew it was a big home run when I first hit it, but we were that type of team that didn’t show a lot of emotion. We had one goal set, and that was to win a World Series, and then we can sit back and think about the key home runs—Victorino’s grand slam against C.C. Sabathia, Blanton’s big home run. We were on a mission. We knew what we had to do and that is what I hope will happen with the team this year, the 2014 Phillies.

Kenny Ayres is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. He can be reached at KA739433@wcupa.edu.

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