Mets icon Rusty Staub dead at 73

New York Mets

Rusty Staub, the orange-haired outfielder who became a huge hit with baseball fans in two countries during an All-Star career that spanned 23 major league seasons, died Thursday. He could have taken me easily.

Staub was one of the original Expos in 1969, quickly becoming a fan favourite by hitting.302 with 29 home runs and 79 RBIs during that first season.

Staub flourished in Montreal, taking multiple French classes and embracing the nickname Le Grand Orange bestowed on him by Ted Blackman of the Montreal Gazette.

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.

He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986, and, though he was with the franchise just over three seasons, had his number 10 retired by the Montreal Expos before the franchise moved to Washington, DC.

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

After baseball, Staub earned a reputation as a humanitarian.

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Last July, he was at Citi Field as Austin Tuozzolo, 5, threw a ceremonial first pitch before a Mets game. Along with being honored by the Mets, he was enshrined in the Texas and Canadian Baseball Halls of Fame.

Born Daniel Joseph Staub, the New Orleans native would have turned 74 on Sunday.

He finally decided on a $100,000 bonus from the new Houston Colt.45s, who were preparing for their inaugural season in 1962.

Staub was also a six-time All-Star and helped the Mets win the 1973 World Series title. He earned a place in Mets fans' hearts forever as he helped the club rise from 11 ½ games out on August 5, 1973 to Game 7 of the World Series. In January, just a few months before he died, he announced that his foundation had served over nine million meals over the last ten years to the needy of NY.

Staub was also active in the then-new Players Association, which is what led to his trade from the Tigers back to the Expos later that year.

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.

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