Thursday, March 29, 2018

RIP Rusty

Daniel Joseph Staub

     Sad news comes from the world of baseball, that Daniel Joseph Staub passed away early this morning. 
     "Rusty" as he was widely know, or "Le Grande Orange" as he was known by in Montreal, was a beloved figure in many baseball communities. 
     He grew up in New Orleans, and was initially signed by the expansion Houston Colt .45's. He made his big league debut as a teenager in 1963.
     He was later traded to Montreal, in a complicated trade that needed Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's involvement. First baseman Donn Clendennon was to be sent to Houston in exchange, but decided to retire instead. The Expos, in his place, sent two other players (Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn) in order to complete the trade.
     Being from New Orleans, and their French culture, made Rusty a great fit in Montreal, and immediate fan favorite for the Expos. However, the Expos didn't perform exceptionally well, and decided to trade Rusty to the Mets for future prospect who could make a quick impact. Those players were Ken Singleton, Mike Jorgenson and Tim Foli.
     Rusty, who was injured for a good part of the 1972 season, rebounded to help the Mets win the 1973 pennant. Playing with an injured shoulder, he batted just .200 in the National League Championship Series against the Reds, managing just three hits...all home runs.
     In the Series against the Oakland A's, Rysty hit .423 in a losing effort.

     Those were his only post season appearances.
     While with the Mets, Rusty fell in love with the city, and its atmosphere. He opened a restaurant, Rusty's, on the upper east side, and became very involved with charities that helped the widows and children of New York City Police and Firefighters.

     In one of the worst trades in New York Mets history (and there have been a few), Rusty was traded to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Mickey Lolich. Rusty flourished in Detroit for a couple of years, before being traded to Montreal midway through the 1979 season.
     He was traded to the Texas Rangers where he played for one season before becoming a Free Agent, resigning with the Mets. ("Coming home to Momma" was how he described the free agent process)
     He finished his career as a pinch-hitter extraordinaire in 1985. 
     He was just the second player to hit a major league homer both before his twentieth birthday and after his fortieth. Ty Cobb was the first.
     He is the only player to make 500 hits for four different teams.
     He tied the all-time consecutive pinch hit record with eight.

     But beyond that, he was a great philanthropist. His foundation distributed over eleven million dollars during its first fifteen years. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, his foundation received over one hundred million dollars in donations.
     This past January, it was disclosed that Rusty's foundation, in conjunction with Catholic Charities, had provided over 9 million meals to the hungry through various food pantries throughout the city.

     So on this opening day...let's all give Rusty a moment of silence...


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