Rusty Staub, durable batter who won pennant with Mets, dies at 73

by Leon Thompson March 31, 2018, 8:38
Rusty Staub, durable batter who won pennant with Mets, dies at 73

Baseball fans are remembering legendary slugger Rusty Staub, who died Thursday in Florida.

Staub, who served two tours with the Mets, was 73 when he passed away in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Staub re-signed with the Mets before the 1981 season and was a player-coach for them in '82.

Staub is the only major league player with 500 hits for four different clubs and joined Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb and Gary Sheffield as the only major league players with homers as teenagers and again after age 40.

As for the sobriquet that stayed with him, he wrote in The New York Times, teammates had been calling him the Big Orange even before he arrived in Montreal in a trade with Houston. "He could be as tough as hell and as soft as a mushroom", said Mets teammate and close friend Keith Hernandez, who choked back tears as he spoke about Staub at Citi Field before NY hosted the St. Louis Cardinals.

For a player who was known primarily for his bat, it's somewhat surprising that he wasn't acquired to be someone's full-time DH earlier than he was, but the Detroit Tigers tapped him for those purposes, acquiring him in exchange for Tigers legend Mickey Lolich after the 1975 season. Affectionately dubbed "Le Grand Orange" in Montreal, he broke into the majors as a teenager with Houston, lasted into his 40s with the Mets and spent decades doing charity work in the NY area.

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"There wasn't a cause he didn't champion", the Mets said. He owns a major league record-tying 25 pinch-hit RBI in 2,951 games during 23 seasons.

He was a key member of the Amazin's 1973 team that lost to the Oakland A's in the World Series. He had 121 RBIs and finished fifth in AL MVP voting in '78, becoming the first major leaguer to play all 162 games in a season at designated hitter. And I don't know how much time I've got.

Daniel Staub, a New Orleans native, earned his nickname from his bright shock of red hair.

After playing in the minors, Staub made his debut with Houston in 1963.

His final at-bat came with the Mets in October 1985. He also created the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund, which has raised millions of dollars for the families of uniformed personnel killed in the line of duty. After that day's attacks in NY, the foundation went on to raise more than $100 million.

'The entire Mets organization sends its deepest sympathy to his brother, Chuck, and sisters Sue Tully and Sally Johnson.

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