Rusty Staub Dies: New York Mets Icon Was 73

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

"There wasn't a cause he didn't champion", the Mets said.

He reportedly died early in the morning Thursday at Good Samaritan Medical Center. He was 73, and would have turned 74 on Sunday. "He was nearly as well known for his philanthropic work as he was for his career as a baseball player, which spanned 23 seasons".

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Staub, also nicknamed "Le Grand Orange" during his time playing for the Montreal Expos, played 23 Major League Baseball seasons, also with the Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers.

Most of his playing years were spent with the Mets, a total of nine season over two different stints. He finished 284 hits shy of 3,000.

His Rusty Staub Foundation, which in 1986 established the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund, distributed over $11 million in the first 15 years of its existence to the families of New York area police and fire fighters killed in the line of duty, and since the September 11, 2001 attacks, received over $112 million in contributions.

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Staub's legacy is huge and will be immediately felt at Citi Field, where the Mets open their season Thursday afternoon against the Cardinals. He had been in failing health for the last few years, most notably when he suffered a heart attack in 2015 on a trans-Atlantic flight from Ireland to NY.

Staub would fit right in with baseball today.

Staub was the first Mets player to have more than 100 RBIs in a season, setting a team record that stood for more than a decade.

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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. While Staub had a phenomenal career that many felt was deserving of the Hall of Fame, it is evident that what he did off the field made just as big of an impact as his 2,716 career hits. 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. He remains 13th all-time in games played, 35th all-time in career plate appearances, 44th all-time in times getting on base and 52nd all-time in career walks.