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Sports Then and Now

Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages

Posted on July 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Rusty Staub

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

After six seasons with Houston on a team that had debuted only a year before Staub, he was traded to Montreal where he became one of the original Montreal Expos.

It was during three seasons in Montreal that the left-handed hitter became one of the top hitters in baseball. He was an All-Star all three seasons and hit 30 home runs in 1970.

Traded to the New York Mets in 1972, Staub was instrumental in leading the Mets to the World Series in 1973. He hit .279 with 76 RBI during the season and then blasted three home runs in the NL Championship Series and then hit .423 with six RBI in the World Series.

After driving home a franchise record 105 runs in 1975, Staub was dealt to the Detroit Tigers prior to the 1976 season. Selected as an All-Star starter in 1976, Staub averaged 106 RBI during his three full seasons in Detroit.

Following brief stints in Texas and Montreal, he rejoined the Mets in 1981 and spent five seasons primarily as a pinch hitter before retiring in 1985.

Staub finished his 23 year career with a .279 batting average, 292 home runs, 1,466 RBI, 499 doubles and 2,716 career hits.

At the time of his retirement, Staub was the only player in baseball history with 500 or more hits with four different teams. He also is one of only three players (Ty Cobb and Gary Sheffield are the others), to hit home runs before turning 20 and after turning 40.

After retiring, Staub established the Rusty Staub Foundation to do charitable works. The foundation has raised more than $100 million. Staub is also a chef and wine connoisseur and owns two restaurants in New York City.

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