Rusty Staub, beloved slugger who played 23 seasons, dies at 73

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He would have turned 74 on Sunday.

Staub spent his 23-year career with five teams, and from his 1963 debut through his last season in 1985, he hit.279/.362/.431 with 2,716 hits, 499 doubles, and 292 home runs.

Staub played 23 season, including three with the Detroit Tigers between 1976 and 1979 where he was voted the start the 1976 All-Star Game. That was more than enough time for any fanbase to fall in love with Rusty.

Former New York Mets players Rusty Staub waves to the fans at home plate after the game against the Florida Marlins to commemorate the last regular season baseball game ever played in Shea Stadium on September 28, 2008 in Flushing.

He spent the 1980 season with the Rangers before returning to the Mets for the final five years of what was a 23-year Major League Baseball career.

"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", the Mets said. He was the ideal player for NY in that era: tough, fun, and full of personality.

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Staub flourished in Montreal, taking multiple French classes and embracing the nickname Le Grand Orange bestowed on him by Ted Blackman of the Montreal Gazette. He was the only player in major league history to have at least 500 hits with four different teams.

After baseball, Staub earned a reputation as a humanitarian. Not just because of his outsized personality, but because of his reputation as a tough negotiator for himself.

For a player who was known primarily for his bat, it's somewhat surprising that he wasn't acquired to be someone's full-time DH earlier than he was, but the Detroit Tigers tapped him for those purposes, acquiring him in exchange for Tigers legend Mickey Lolich after the 1975 season. It was evident when he returned to Canada for his induction into our Hall of Fame in 2012 that part of his heart still belonged to the city of Montreal and its baseball fans. He hit free agency for the first time in 1980 and signed with the Mets.

In Between, Staub made several appearances on the National League All-Star team.

After he retired, Staub dedicated his time to many philanthropic causes. Staub announced in January that in conjunction with Catholic Charities his foundation had served more than 9 million meals to the hungry and homeless over the last 10 years.