Former Expos great Rusty Staub dead at 73

Former Expos great Rusty Staub dead at 73

Staub, who became a huge hit with baseball fans in two countries during an All-Star career that spanned 23 major league seasons, died Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Florida. He could have taken me easily. Staub carried that moniker cheerfully through 23 big league seasons, which featured 2,716 hits and 1,466 runs batted in, then into his second phase as a broadcaster, restaurateur and charitable fund-raiser. His red hair, which had already gotten him dubbed "Rusty" would combine with his 6'2 stature to earn another affectionate nickname - 'Le Grand Orange'.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was Staub's teammate with the Mets in the 1980s, calling him one of the top pinch hitters of the day.

Staub would DH and play corner positions in 1980 with the Rangers and would bop between first, right and left for the Expos and Mets for the remainder of his career, retiring after the 1985 campaign.

Staub would have turned 74 this Sunday.

Staub was drafted by the Houston Colt.45's as a 17-year-old in 1961, and he played the 1962 season with the Bulls.

Last July, he was at Citi Field as Austin Tuozzolo, 5, threw a ceremonial first pitch before a Mets game.

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"He was always good to me", said Gibbons.

It all began at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, where Staub played at first alongside his brother, Chuck Staub, at center field, according to The Society for American Baseball Research. He sat out Tom Seaver's decisive win in Game 5 and missed the World Series opener against Oakland, yet returned to the lineup the following game.

In his retirement he also quietly and without fanfare fed millions of needy people via food pantries and other services run through Catholic Charities.

After the 1975 season, when he became the first player in Mets history to drive in 100 runs in a season, he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers in a money-saving move obtained fading former ace pitcher Mickey Lolich, who went 8-13 in his only season in Flushing.

He was the only player with at least 500 hits for four teams (Astros, Expos, Mets and Tigers) and he joins Ty Cobb, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield as the lone players to homer in the majors before age 20 and after 40. One of the best contact hitters of his time, Staub struck out just 888 times in 9,720 at-bats and drew 1,255 walks.

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