On a dreary day in the northeast, when we were teased by televised baseball yesterday, the Mets are not being broadcast on local radio or television for their spring training game against the Astros. In the absence of the 2013 version, today seems like a great day for another walk down Mets Memory Lane. Last Thursday, we took a look at a red-headed former Met, Wayne Garrett. Today, let’s turn our attention to the most prolific red-head to ever adorn the blue and orange, Daniel Joseph “Rusty” Staub.
Rusty Staub had two tours of duty in Queens. After breaking in with Houston Colt 45s in 1963, Staub moved on to play for the Montreal Expos. Then, on April 5th 1972, the Mets acquired Staub from the Expos for Mike Jorgensen, Tim Foli, and Ken Singleton. Staub was the impact player that Mets team needed, and the following season, the Mets won the National League Pennant. In 1973, Staub hit .279 with 15 HRs and 76 RBI. Staub, who never possessed foot speed, was a good outfielder, with a cannon for a throwing arm. In the 1973 NLCS, Staub, while playing hurt, hit 3 HRs and drove in 5 runs in a 5-game series. Staub excelled in the 1973 World Series, batting .423 with a home run and 6 RBI, playing injured during that series (he had hurt his shoulder in a play you can see at the 12 second mark of the video below). After 4 seasons in New York, the Mets traded Rusty to the Detroit Tigers for Mickey Lolich and Billy Baldwin after the 1975 season.
On December 16th, 1980, the Mets signed Staub as a free agent for his second tenure with the club. At 37, Staub was signed primarily to be a pinch hitter, though he did start some games for the struggling early-80s Mets. In 1983, Staub tied a National League record with eight hits in eight consecutive pinch-hitting appearances. You can see that hit at the 1:00 mark of the video below.
The Mets honored Staub in 1986 after he retired, and the players on the 1986 came out in, you guessed it, red wigs to pay tribute to Rusty. Staub’s career numbers are very good. He played 23 seasons, and hit .279, with 292 HRs and 1466 RBI. Rusty Staub is now 68 years old. While his on-field achievements will always be remembered, Staub will most likely always hold the honor of The New York Mets most valuable red-head.