Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Stairs showed athletic ability at an early age, playing Beaver League baseball a year before his age eligibility. After Bantam & Midget baseball, at age 16 he played for the Marysville team in the New Brunswick Senior Baseball league where he was voted “Rookie of The Year” and in his second year was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
After attending the Baseball Institute School in Vancouver for one year he joined the Canadian Junior National team from where he went on to play for the Canadian Olympic Team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He played for Canada at the World Amateur Championships in Italy where he was named to the “World All-Star” team.
Signed by the Montreal Expos to a minor league contract, Stairs played Double “A” ball in Harrisburg, Pa. where he lead the league in hitting and was voted the league’s 1991 M.V.P. In 1992 he moved up to Triple “A” ball in Indianapolis then played the following season in Japan. In 1995 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, assigned to their Pawtucket farm club until being called up to the major leagues in June 1995. At the end of the season he accepted an offer to play with the Oakland Athletics. After being called up from Triple “A” ball, Stairs immediately joined a very elite circle when he tied a Major League Baseball record for driving in six runs in one inning.
He is only the second Canadian born player to ever hit more than thirty-five home runs in a season and only the second to hit more than 25 home runs and drive in more than 100 runs in back-to-back seasons. He ranks either first or second in a power hitting categories of any Canadian to ever play in the Major Leagues.