NBC Washington’s headline read, “Ex-Mets Star, Philanthropist Rusty Staub Dies on Opening Day.” The Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, SD) announced, “Rusty Staub, Mets legend and humanitarian, dies at 73.” These headlines summed up some of his contributions to society, but not all.
Daniel Joseph Staub was born on April 1, 1944, in New Orleans, LA. A 6-time All-Star, Staub played in the major leagues for 23 years. He made his Major League debut with the Houston Colt .45s on April 9, 1963, at the age of 19. In 1969, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for their inaugural season. Staub would play in Montreal through the 1975 season, where he would learn the French language and earn the nickname “Le Grand Orange.”
Staub was traded to the New York Mets for the 1972 season, where he again embraced his surroundings and became an important part of the community. He played for Detroit (1976-1979), Montreal again (1979), and Texas (1980), before returning to the Mets in 1981. After his retirement in 1985, Staub opened a second restaurant in Manhattan, Rusty Staub’s on 5th and became a member of the Mets’ broadcasting team. His many baseball honors include:
- Inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1986
- Jersey number – no. 10 – retired by the Montreal Expos in 1993
- Inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2006
- Inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2012
After his retirement from the Mets, Staub established the Rusty Staub Foundation, whose mission is “to give children the opportunity to live full, happy and productive lives and to give aid to the hungry.” The Foundation provides approximately 826,000 meals every year through its food pantries in Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens; a mobile unit that delivers food to the the Bronx and Staten Island; and the he Rusty Staub Foundation Community Dining Room. The Foundation partners with other organizations that share its focus, including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
In 1986, Staub also founded the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. The mission of the Fund is to provide “financial assistance and a network of support to the families of NYC police officers, firefighters, port authority police officers, and EMS personnel killed in the line of duty.” Families of fallen first responders are initially provided $25,000 to help with immediate needs after the tragedy. Each widow or widower also receives an annual stipend from the Fund for the remainder of his or her life. Families are invited to be part of the Fund’s community, which offers social gatherings and support to its members.
We will never forget your contributions to baseball and the community, Rusty. Thank you and rest in peace.