Born in Saint John, N.B., and grew up and lived in Fredericton, N.B., in 1968, Stairs was hoping to become a professional hockey player until he sustained a serious knee injury in high school. When he recovered, he decided to focus on baseball and he honed his skills at the National Baseball Institute in Surrey, B.C. and with Canada’s junior national team. In 1988, he competed for Canada in the Olympics and hit .362 at the Baseball World Cup and was named the tournament’s top shortstop.
His international success helped convince the Expos to sign him as a free agent in 1989. After parts of four seasons in the minors, the stocky Maritimer made his big league debut with the Expos on May 29, 1992. Over the next four seasons, he split time between Triple-A, the Expos, the Chunichi Dragons of the Japan Central League and the Boston Red Sox, before inking a deal with the Oakland A’s on December 1, 1995.
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