While baseball brims with excitement for the onset of the 2018 season, there’s also sad news for fans and industry folk alike to mourn on Thursday, as Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports that six-time All-Star Rusty Staub has passed away just days before what would have been his 74th birthday. Staub had previously survived a severe heart attack in 2015, but as Madden notes, he’d been in the hospital for the past eight weeks battling a blood infection and kidney failure before experiencing multiple organ failure.
Staub spent nine of his 23 Major League seasons starring for the Mets, for whom he batted .276/.358/.419 in two separate stints, although his best seasons very arguably came with the Houston organization and the now-defunct Expos in his mid-20s. From 1967-71, Staub posted a terrific .302/.397/.472 slash with 94 homers — good for a 148 OPS+ and five consecutive trips to the Midsummer Classic.
In all, Staub’s outstanding career drew to a close with 2,716 hits, 292 homers, 499 doubles, 47 triples, 1189 runs scored, 1466 RBIs and more walks (1255) than strikeouts (888). He batted .279/.362/.431 in 11,229 plate appearances across 23 seasons split between the Mets, Astros/Colt 45s, Expos, Tigers and Rangers.
After his playing days, Staub set to work on helping those less fortunate than he’d been in life, establishing the Rusty Staub Foundation, whose mission to this day is to “give children the opportunity to live full, happy and productive lives and to give aid to the hungry.” Established in 1985, the RSF has established pantries around New York City and, to date, has raised more than $17MM for like-minded organizations, per the RSF’s web site. Staub also established the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which, as Madden notes in his column, has raised more than $112MM in total contributions since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Madden’s column provides a terrific, heartfelt look at Staub’s legacy both on and off the field and stands as an excellent tribute to a beloved baseball figure.
The Mets, for whom Staub suited up more than any team in his career, issued the following statement:
“The Mets family suffered another loss earlier today when Daniel “Rusty” Staub passed away in a West Palm Beach Hospital after an illness. He was almost as well known for his philanthropic work as he was for his career as a baseball player, which spanned 23 seasons. There wasn’t a cause he didn’t champion. Rusty helped children, the poor, the elderly and then there was his pride and joy The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. A six-time All-Star, he is the only player in major league history to have collected at least 500 hits with four different teams. The entire Mets organization sends its deepest sympathy to his brother, Chuck, and sisters Sue Tully and Sally Johnson. He will be missed by everyone.”