Mets legend Rusty Staub dead at 73

4050 Reasons to Appreciate Rusty Staub

The colorful, run-producing humanitarian died Thursday at a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Mets announced.

Staub, who possessed a solid bat and became one of the league's top pinch hitters in his later years, had been in failing health in recent weeks. Staub survived a heart attack on a flight from Ireland to NY in October 2015. He survived that ordeal but fell ill over the winter and, eventually, was struck with a blood infection and subsequent kidney failure.

Bill Madden of the New York Daily news reported that Staub's foundation, which in 1986 established the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund, distributed more than $11 million in the first 15 years of its existence to the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and that since the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks the foundation had received more than $112 million in contributions. By the age of 21, in his third big league season, he was already getting on base at a healthy clip and, over the next few years, his keen eye and gap power allowed him to develop into one of the better bats in the extraordinarily tough National League of the 1960s.

He was part of the 1973 "You Gotta Believe" National League champions who were in last place in late July and 12 games below.500 before Manager Yogi Berra rallied the troops to take the National League East with only 82 wins. Staub's first year in Detroit would be his sixth and final All-Star appearance.

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.

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Though he loved Montreal, New York was his baseball home. He received a $100,000 signing bonus with the then-expansion Houston Colt.45s in 1962 and made the Opening Day roster in 1963.

Rusty Staub, pinch hitting for the New York Mets, watches his sixth inning hit to right field against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium on May 1, 1984. It was a transaction that made a mark on both clubs, giving the Expos a core of players which would improve their prospects in the coming years and giving the Mets a larger than life star and offensive weapon in some of the franchise's better seasons.

He was with the Mets from 1972 - 1974, and ended his career with the team in 1985 after joining it for a second time in 1981. In all, Staub hit.341 with 11 RBIs in his only postseason, a clutch and gritty performance that endeared him to Mets fans forever.

Staub was also active in the then-new Players Association, which is what led to his trade from the Tigers back to the Expos later that year. He was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. "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 objective of this organization", said Staub, whose uncle Marvin Morton was a New Orleans motorcycle cop killed in the line of duty.

Affectionately dubbed "Le Grand Orange" in Montreal, he broke into the majors as a teenager with Houston, lasted into his 40s with the Mets and spent decades doing charity work in the NY area. On January 8, Staub announced that, in conjunction with Catholic Charities, his foundation had also served 9,043,741 meals to the hungry at food pantries throughout NY over last 10 years, with funds though his annual wine auction dinner and foundation golf tournament.

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