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Rusty Staub

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Daniel Joseph "Rusty" Staub (born April 1, 1944 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a retired Major League Baseball player who played 23 seasons, from 1963 to 1985, for the Houston Colt .45s and Astros, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, and Texas Rangers. He batted left-handed, and threw right-handed. He was a right fielder for much of his career, and also spent considerable time as a first baseman and as a designated hitter.

Houston Colt .45's/AstrosEdit

Staub signed his first professional contract with the Houston Colt .45s organization in 1961.[1] He spent the 1962 season in the Class B Carolina League, and at season's end he was named one of the league's all-stars.[2] Following that season, Staub was signed to a $100,000 Major League contract under the Bonus Rule.[3] In his first season, at only 19 years of age, Staub played regularly, splitting time between first base and the outfield, but hit only .220. The following season, he hit only .216 for the Colts and was sent down the minor leagues at one point.[4] His numbers began to steadily improve in the 1965 season for the now-renamed Astros, and he had a breakout 1967 season, where he led the league in doubles with 44 and was selected to the All-Star team. He was also an All-Star for the Astros in 1968.

Montreal ExposEdit

Staub was traded to the Expos before the start of their inaugural season in 1969 as part of a trade for Donn Clendenon and Jesus Alou.[1] The trade became a source of controversy as Clendenon refused to report to the Astros and attempted to retire; the deal had to be resolved by Commissioner of Baseball Bowie Kuhn who ruled that the deal was official, but that Clendenon was to stay with the Expos. Montreal eventually dealt Jack Billingham, Skip Guinn, and $100,000 as compensation.[5]

He was embraced as the expansion team's first star, and became one of the most popular players in their history. Embraced by French-Canadians because he learned their language,[6] he was nicknamed "Le Grand Orange" for his red hair (his more common nickname of "Rusty" has the same origin). The #10 worn by Staub during his first stint in Montreal was the first number ever retired by the Montreal Expos organization. He is also the franchise's career leader in on-base percentage (.402), among players with 2,000 or more plate appearances with the franchise.[7]

New York MetsEdit

After three seasons in Montreal, Staub was traded to the New York Mets in 1972 in exchange for first baseman-outfielder Mike Jorgensen, shortstop Tim Foli, and outfielder Ken Singleton.[1] Staub was instrumental in the Mets' 1973 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series where he socked 3 home runs and drove in 5 RBIs. He was outstanding defensively, when he robbed Dan Driessen of an extra-base hit in the 11th inning. However, while making the play in right field, he crashed into the fence extremely hard and separated his right shoulder.[8] The resulting injury to his shoulder forced him to throw underhanded and rather weakly in the World Series.[8] Despite the injury, he batted .423 against the Oakland Athletics including a home run and 6 RBIs.

In 1975, he set a Mets record with 105 runs batted in—the first Met player ever to surpass 100 RBIs—that would not be matched until 1986, when it was tied by Gary Carter, and not surpassed until 1990 when Darryl Strawberry recorded 108.[9]

Detroit TigersEdit

Before the 1976 season, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers with pitcher Bill Laxton for pitcher Mickey Lolich and outfielder Billy Baldwin.[1]

In his three plus seasons with the Tigers, Staub hit .277 with 70 home runs.[10] He was voted to start the 1976 All-Star Game, where he went 2-for-2.

In 1978, Staub became the first player to play in all 162 regular-season games exclusively as a designated hitter.[11] Not playing the field at all proved beneficial, as Staub finished second in the Major Leagues with 121 RBI and finished fifth in American League Most Valuable Player voting. He was selected to the Sporting News American League All-Star team at the end of the season as the designated hitter.[12]

Staub held out to start the 1979 season,[5] and eventually he was dealt to the Montreal Expos in July of that same season.[1]

Later careerEdit

After spending the 1980 season with the Texas Rangers, Staub returned to the Mets in 1981 as a free agent and served as a player-coach in 1982. In 1983, he tied a National League record with eight straight pinch-hits and that same season also tied the Major League record of 25 RBIs by a pinch hitter.[8]

RetirementEdit

Rusty Staub retired from baseball at the age of 41 in 1985. He ended his career as the only major league player to have 500 hits with four different teams.[8] He and Ty Cobb share the distinction of being the only players to hit home runs before turning 20 years old, and after turning 40 years old.[13]

Shortly after his arrival in New York City in the 1970s, he opened "Rusty's,"[8] a cajun-style restaurant on the upper east side of Manhattan,at 73rd street and Third avenue, which was best known for its annual rib-eating contest.It closed in the 1980s due to rising rents and Rusty's inability to control costs while not overseeing the day to day operations of the restaurant.

He also worked as a television announcer for Mets ball games.

A humanitarian, he established the "Rusty Staub Foundation" to do charitable works, and in 1986, founded the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. During its first 15 years of existence, the Fund raised and distributed $11 million for families of policemen and firefighters killed in the line of duty.[14] Since September 11, 2001, Staub's organization has received contributions in excess of $112 million,[14] and has played a vital role in helping many families affected by the disaster.

HonorsEdit

Staub was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1986. In 2004, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Niagara University.[15] Jesuit High School, where Rusty graduated, annually gives the Rusty Staub Award to the leader of the varsity baseball team.[16]

In 2006, Rusty Staub was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.[13]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Rusty Staub Statistics. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-11-07.
  2. Bob Hurte. Steve Blass. Society of American Baseball Research. Retrieved on 2008-10-14.
  3. Wynn of the Losers. Time magazine (2007-07-07). Retrieved on 2008-09-26.
  4. SABR Minor Leagues Database: Rusty Staub. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved on 2008-09-26.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Charlton, James. Rusty Staub from the Chronology. BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  6. Mulvoy, Mark (1970-07-06). In Montreal They Love Le Grand Orange. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 2008-10-18.
  7. Washington Nationals Batting Leaders. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Turetzky, Ken. The Ballplayers - Rusty Staub. BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-21.
  9. Noble, Marty (2007-09-16). Notes: Lawrence gets nod for Monday. MLB Advanced Media, L.P.. Retrieved on 2008-10-21.
  10. Detroit Tigers Batting Leaders. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-10-21.
  11. Swinging for the Record Books. Sports Illustrated (1993-04-05). Retrieved on 2008-09-30.
  12. Rusty Staub. Retrosheet. Retrieved on 2008-10-23.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Texas Baseball Hall of Fame - Rusty Staub Bio. Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2008-09-30.
  14. 14.0 14.1 New Mets are a hit with Rusty Staub. Westchester County Business Journal (2005-06-20). Retrieved on 2008-09-30.
  15. Nearly 1,000 Students to Graduate from Niagara University During the Weekend of May 15 - 16, 2004. Niagara University (2004-04-06). Retrieved on 2008-10-23.
  16. JayNotes - The Magazine of Jesuit High School in New Orleans (Graduation 2007, Page 5) (PDF). Jesuit High School (New Orleans) (2007). Retrieved on 2008-10-23.

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