On opening day today of the Major League Baseball season, longtime player and six-time All-Star Rusty Staub died.
Staub, who had struggled with health problems for years, reportedly died of multiple organ failure at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., early this morning.
“He was initially admitted with pneumonia, dehydration and an infection and had spent the last eight weeks in the hospital,” The New York Daily News reports. “He would have turned 74 on Sunday.”
Staub played for five teams during his 23-year MLB career, including stints with the New York Mets from 1972-1975 and 1981-1985, becoming one of the team’s most popular players.
He played right field and first base during his career, and spent time as a designated hitter. He also did two stints with the Montreal Expos, who retired his No. 10 jersey.
“The hulking 6-2 Staub, whose post-retirement weight fluctuated from 250-300 pounds, had battled a number of health issues in recent years, including a near-fatal heart attack, October 2, 2015, on a flight from Ireland to New York,” the Daily News reports. “He reportedly became woozy while playing golf near his Palm Beach Gardens, Florida home in late January and was later discovered to be suffering from cellulitis, which evolved into a blood infection that resulted in a shutdown of his kidneys.”
Staub, who has been described as a bigger-than-life baseball personality, helped the New York Mets reach the World Series in 1973 (see clip below from that year’s Series), and was later inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
The Mets released a statement today before taking the field, saying: “The Mets family suffered another loss earlier today when Daniel ‘Rusty’ Staub passed away in a West Palm Beach Hospital after an illness. He was almost as well known for his philanthropic work as he was for his career as a baseball player, which spanned 23 seasons. There wasn’t a cause he didn’t champion. 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.”