Mets, Montreal baseball hero Staub dead at 73


Miami (AFP)

Daniel "Rusty" Staub, whose 23 Major League Baseball seasons included star turns with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets, died Thursday at West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 73.

The red-headed American outfielder was nicknamed "Le Grand Orange" by Montreal fans, the first star for an expansion squad. He was beloved in Quebec for learning French after joining the Expos in 1969 following six seasons with Houston.

Staub's jersey number, 10, was retired by the Expos, who relocated to the US capital in 2004 and became the Washington Nationals.

In 1972, after five consecutive all-star seasons, Staub was sent to the Mets in what was considered a blockbuster trade. He spent four seasons with the Mets and four more with Detroit before briefly playing for the Expos and Texas and finishing his career with five final seasons for the Mets.

"Known for his power and patience at the plate, Rusty became an All-Star for three different clubs and a fan favorite," Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Rusty was a superb ambassador for our sport."

Staub had 2,716 career hits, including 292 home runs and 1,466 runs batted in but he was known in New York for his philanthropy, having founded the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund before the September 2001 attacks and it has raised more than $100 million.

"There wasn't a cause he didn't champion," the Mets said in a statement. "Rusty helped children, the poor, the elderly and (the fund) was his pride and joy."

Staub is the only major league player with 500 hits for four different clubs and joined Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb and Gary Sheffield as the only major league players with homers as teenagers and again after age 40.