Former Tiger and 23-year MLB veteran Rusty Staub passes away at age 73

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The baseball world lost a truly great player and perhaps an even greater man on Thursday, as the sport began their 2018 season. Former major league veteran Rusty Staub has passed away at the age of 73, just three days before his 74th birthday.

Staub played 23 seasons in the show from 1963-85, beginning when he was 19 and finishing at the age of 41. He spent 3+ seasons with the Detroit Tigers from 1976-79, where he hit .277 with a .787 OPS in 549 career games.

One of his better professional seasons came as a Tiger in 1978 when he drove in 121 runs, the highest single-season mark for him. Staub that season also became the first player ever to play all 162 games as a designated hitter.

Staub began his career with the Houston Colt .45s (later named the Astros in 1965) when they were just in their second year of existence. He then was a focal point for another beginning franchise when he joined the expansion club Montreal Expos in 1969. Staub spent the bulk of his career with the New York Mets, spanning nine seasons in two separate stints. He also spent one season with the Texas Rangers.

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Overall, the six-time All-Star Staub turned in a remarkable offensive career during a period were run scoring in baseball was at a real premium. He slashed .279/.362/.431, collecting over 2,700 career hits along the way. The man they affectionately called “Le Grand Orange” for his striking and ‘rusty’ red hair is the only player in major league history to accumulate at least 500 hits with four different teams.

For as good of a player as Staub was in his career, the fan favorite just about everywhere he went was often perceived as a greater person off the field. Shortly after his playing career, he founded a charity to raise funds and support for the loved ones of deceased New York police and fire department first responders. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Staub’s foundation received close to half a million dollars from Mets’ players and coaches, who donated their game salaries in the first contest played after those terrorist attacks.