Rusty Staub, a six-time All-Star who helped the Mets reach the 1973 World Series, died Thursday — opening day for the 2018 MLB season — at the age of 73.
Staub had battled health issues for years and his kidneys reportedly stopped responding to dialysis earlier this month while at a hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla. He succumbed to multiple organ failure at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, the New York Daily News reported.
The #Mets family suffered a loss earlier today when Daniel “Rusty” Staub passed away. The entire organization sends its deepest sympathy to his family. He will be missed by everyone. #RIPRusty pic.twitter.com/fFymLOAqhr
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 29, 2018
His health had been deteriorating since 2015, when he suffered a heart attack on a flight from Ireland to the United States. He was revived on the plane, which returned to Ireland, and Staub was briefly hospitalized before returning home.
Though best remembered for his three home runs during the 1973 National League Championship Series, Staub came up with the Astros.
Then known as the Colt .45s, Houston signed Staub in 1961 and the expansion team assigned him to the Carolina League, where he was an All-Star. He made his MLB debut in 1963 and remained with the Astros through the 1968 season. He led the National League with 44 doubles in 1967, when he was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time.
Commissioner Manfred issued the following statement today regarding the passing of six-time All-Star outfielder Rusty Staub: pic.twitter.com/qyuhsWruEI
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 29, 2018
Staub was traded to the expansion Expos in 1969 and made the All-Star team for the third time. He hit .302 with 29 home runs and 79 RBIs and drew 110 walks to just 61 strikeouts. Staub’s given name was Daniel, but he was dubbed “Rusty” because of his red hair. Those locks earned him the nickname, “Le Grand Orange” while in Montreal.
Staub was selected to five straight All-Star games from 1967-71. He did not miss a game in 1971 and posted a career-best .311 batting average to go with 19 homers and 97 RBIs.
Staub, who split time between first base and right field, was traded to the Mets in 1972 as part of a blockbuster deal that included fellow utility player Mike Jorgensen, shortstop Tim Foli and outfielder Ken Singleton.
The highlight of Staub’s time with the Mets was the 1973 NLCS as he helped the team defeat Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” to reach the World Series for the second time in franchise history.
Keith Hernandez, with tears in eyes, discusses Rusty Staub pic.twitter.com/zTPNffZkqT
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) March 29, 2018
Staub was traded to Detroit after four seasons in New York and had three of his best seasons with the Tigers. He drove in 318 runs from 1976-78, highlighted by a career-best 121 RBIs in 1978. But he was again traded in 1979, after holding out to start the season, and went back to Montreal.
He spent the 1980 season with the Rangers before returning to the Mets for the final five years of what was a 23-year MLB career. Staub retired following the 1985 season with a career slash line of .279/.362/.431, 292 home runs, 499 doubles and 1,466 RBIs. 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.
Staub is the only player with at least 500 hits with four different teams and is one of just four people to hit a big-league home run before his 20th birthday and after his 40th. Ty Cobb, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield are the others.
Statement of MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark regarding the passing of Rusty Staub... pic.twitter.com/E3OTY0drDF
— #MLBPA (@MLB_PLAYERS) March 29, 2018
Following his retirement, Staub further endeared himself to the Mets community by starting the Rusty Staub Foundation and founding the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. Staub’s charities have since raised more than $150 million.
He worked Mets broadcasts from 1986-95 and owned a pair of Manhattan restaurants. Staub even wrote a children’s book entitled, “Hello, Mr. Met,” in 2006.