Fredericton honours hometown sports hero

Fredericton honoured a hometown sports hero Saturday, naming a street after Matt Stairs of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Fredericton honoured a hometown sports hero Saturday, naming a street after him.

Matt Stairs, a right-fielder who last played with the Philadelphia Phillies — and won the 2008 World Series with them — got his start in professional baseball playing at Royals Field Park in Fredericton.

A street that runs alongside the baseball diamond is now known as Matt Stairs Way.

"Royals Field…that's one of the most special ones I've ever been in," said Stairs, one of Canada's most successful power hitters, with a 16-season career in the major leagues and 259 home runs.

"One, it's in my hometown. Two, it's where I was scouted, where I was signed.

"It's a home inside of a home city. And now, just to have a street named around it is a great honour," said Stairs, a free agent who says he may play again next year if he gets the right offer.

Hundreds turned out

Hundreds of people turned out at the Willie O'Ree Place Saturday morning for a chance to see Stairs, many sporting Phillies jerseys, or the team's red and grey colours.

Ten-year-old Adam Estey was among them. He vividly remembers watching Game 5 of last year's National League Championships with his father, when Stairs hit the home run that got the Phillies to the World Series.

"It was the last inning last year against the Dodgers when he hit the home run waaay over the wall.

"My dad was pretty bummed out because the Dodgers lost, because that was his favourite team, but I was excited," he said.

Ryan Astle travelled from Woodstock to stand in line for Stairs's autograph, with a bag full of memorabilia in hand.

"Big fan of Matt's career," he said. "It's always been something for my dad — point of conversation. I know we've had at least 259 conversations because he's got 259 home runs and I wanted to get some stuff signed.

"It makes good Christmas gifts."

Stairs, 41, who was born in Saint John and raised in Fredericton, currently lives in Bangor, Me. during the off-season. But he plans to move back to Fredericton when he retires, he said.