Rusty Staub, Mets, Expos icon, dies at age 73

Mets icon Rusty Staub dead at 73

Former Major League Baseball standout Rusty Staub, who began his professional career with the Durham Bulls, passed away on Thursday.

Born Daniel Joseph Staub, the Montreal baseball icon would have turned 74 on Sunday. He was a.279 hitter with 2,716 hits, 292 homers and 499 doubles. That was more than enough time for any fanbase to fall in love with Rusty. His Rusty Staub Foundation donated more than $100 million to the widows and children of NY policeman and firefigherts killed in the line of duty, including on 9/11. Rusty loved NY, and New York loved him back. He was the flawless player for NY in that era: tough, fun, and full of personality.

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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. 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'. The six-time All-Star is the only player ever to have 500 hits with four different teams.

In Detroit, Staub became the first player to play all 162 games exclusively as a designated hitter.

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At the end of his distinguished career, Staub founded the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. Not just because of his outsized personality, but because of his reputation as a tough negotiator for himself.

NY traded Staub to Detroit in December 1975 and he made his final All-Star team with the Tigers in 1976. In Montreal, he was Le Grand Orange, who put major league baseball on the map. He hit free agency for the first time in 1980 and signed with the Mets. Staub's first year in Detroit would be his sixth and final All-Star appearance.

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After he retired, Staub dedicated his time to many philanthropic causes. Off the baseball field he was a French-trained chef with a pair of successful New York City restaurants - barbecued ribs were the specialty - and a humanitarian who raised well over $100 million for the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, never faltering even after more than 400 were killed in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. 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.

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