Former Expos great Rusty Staub dead at 73

Rusty Staub Mets icon has died at age 73

Rusty Staub, who played 23 seasons with five Major League Baseball teams as an outfielder and first baseman, passed away at age 73 on Thursday.

Staub began his major league career the next season and would play 23 seasons for the Houston Astros, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. The orange-haired outfielder became a huge hit with fans in the US and Canada during a career spanning 23 seasons.

Rusty Staub won't get a chance to see how his former team performs this season. He finished 284 hits shy of 3,000. He had some of his best statistical seasons with Detroit. The paper first broke news of his death.

"There wasn't a cause he didn't champion", the Mets said in a statement released Thursday.

He owned and operated two popular Manhattan restaurants that bore his name, and authored a children's book titled "Hello, Mr. Met!"

The Montreal Expos' first year in baseball was a joyous time, and at the centre of it all was Le Grand Orange.

On a bad Expos team in 1969, he hit.302 with 29 home runs, while using his powerful arm to produce 16 outfield assists. "He may have only played three-and-a-half seasons with the Montreal Expos, but he gave his heart and soul to the franchise and to the city of Montreal".

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 separated his right shoulder when he crashed hard into the outfield wall to make a fantastic catch in the 11th inning of Game 4. 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. He was a key member of the group that went from last place to the World Series in 1973.

He was obtained by the Mets before the 1972 season and once gain became an instant fan favorite out in right field.

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

Staub re-signed with the Mets before the 1981 season and was a player-coach for them in '82. In 1983, he tied an Major League Baseball record that still stands today when he had 25 pinch-hit RBIs.

Staub worked as an announcer on Mets television broadcasts from 1986-95.

He was named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. "I mean, I was tap dancing in front of Saint Peter". He could have taken me easily.

"God wasn't ready for me yet", he said at the time. You know, I do some pretty good work. "So, I guess I'd better hurry up".

The next April, he was on hand again to help raise the NL championship banner. "If it gives them that little surge of energy that is very hard to find in things in life, to bring some joy and happiness to them, that's the goal of this organization", said Staub, whose uncle Marvin Morton was a New Orleans motorcycle cop killed in the line of duty. 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. Rusty loved NY, and New York loved him back.

He had 292 career home runs and an even 100 pinch hits in his career, and shares the all-time record with eight consecutive pinch hits in 1983. The six-time All-Star is the only player ever to have 500 hits with four different teams.

Staub had a.362 career on-base percentage.

He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot seven times, never receiving more than 7.9 percent of the vote. The entire Mets organization sends its deepest sympathy to his brother, Chuck and sisters Sue Tully and Sally Johnson.

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