In 2018, baseball lost three legends of the game. They are now playing on the Field of Dreams. This is a tribute to those men.
Baseball great Daniel Joseph “Rusty” Staub (April 1, 1944 – March 29, 2018) signed with the old Houston Colt 45’s organization in 1961 and began to play in the Majors in 1963.
Staub began alternating between first and the outfield and was only the second teenager to play in 150 games as a rookie (Bob Kennedy, 19, did the same with the 1940 Chicago White Sox.) He struggled for the first few years, but after the team was renamed the Astros, he bloomed in the 1967 season, with 44 doubles and an All-Star nomination. After another good year and All-Star appearance in 1968, he was traded to the newly formed Montreal Expos.
Staub was embraced as the Expos first star and nicknamed by the Canadians as “La Grande Orange” (Rusty) for his red hair. He played in 156 baseball games, with 166 hits, 89 runs, 29 homers, 79 RBIs and a .302 average. He followed up with the 1970 record of 260 games, 156 hits, 98 runs and 30 home runs, and had a similar record in 1971.
Although he was traded to the Mets in 1972, Staub had played 480 games, 508 hits and an on-base percentage of .402, still the club record.
His number was retired by the Expos, and he won the first Expos Player of the Year award.
After the Mets at Staub in a trade for three players and was hitting .313 for the Mets until he was hit by a pitch on June 3, 1972 and received a fractured wrist. It healed but he was hit by another pitch at the same spot early in the 1973 season. He helped the Mets got to the playoffs with the Cincinnati Reds, and then to the World Series against the Oakland A’s.
He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1976, where he was used mostly for the newly legal designated hitter position, and then in 1980 traded to the Texas Rangers. He then used free agency to transfer to the New York Mets, where he was a player/coach for several years. He ended his career at 41 in 1985, only 284 hits shy of the 3,000-hit milestone. He was the only major leaguer to hit 500 of more hits with your different teams.
Although he was on the ballot for seven years, he never got the necessary votes to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame but was named to the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1986. In 1985, he founded the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which was able to raise $112 million after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. He was also a radio color announcer for the Mets from 1986 to 1995 and ran two restaurants in New York City.
Staub died on March 29, 2018, three days before his 74th birthday in West Palm Beach, Florida, following multiple organ failure.