Rusty Staub

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Beloved Mets Icon Rusty Staub Dead At 73

March 29, 2018 - 8:52 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The New York Mets will open their 2018 season with heavy hearts.

Daniel “Rusty” Staub, one of the most beloved figures in the club's history, has died at age 73.

The Daily News reports he passed away Thursday morning at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Palm Beach, Florida due to multiple organ failure hours before the Mets home opener.

He had been hospitalized for the past eight weeks after being admitted for pneumonia.

The six-time All-Star played for several teams and to this day is the only player in major league history to collect at least 500 hits with four different clubs.

Off the field, his heart was as big as his persona, establishing the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund.

His Rusty Staub Foundation has served more than 9 million meals over the past decade.

"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," the Mets said in a statement. "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. The entire Mets organization sends its deepest sympathy to his brother, Chuck and sisters Sue Tully and Sally Johnson. He will be missed by everyone."

Speaking to WCBS 880’s Steve Scott and Michael Wallace Thursday, CBS Sports Anchor Andrew Bogusch said the Mets players who spoke before the home opener knew well of Staub’s legacy even though he came well before their time.

“The handful that spoke to the media before first pitch here this morning – obviously, this is a different generation of men – but the ones that have been here the longest know full well what Rusty Staub meant to this organization,” Bogusch said. “I mean, now, there might not be a more beloved Met.”

Bogusch noted that Staub could swing the bat and performed tremendously on the field.

“Well, you know, that’s the crazy thing. He had a heck of a career he had overshadowed by all the great he did after. He was a pure hitter. He debuted at 19 for the Houston Colt .45s way back in 1963. Over 23 seasons, over 2,700 hits, six All-Star Games, a tremendous pinch hitter – his career, yeah, it says a lot that we forget how good he was because he was really, really good, and then even that much better off the field after he was done playing here in New York,” he said.

Bogusch said Staub’s philanthropic work in New York will likely be remembered most of all.

“As great as his career was, he had to do a lot off the field to kind of overshadow it, and he did, particularly with the widows and the children of fallen firefighters and police officers here in the city. His foundation has raised millions of dollars and taken care of so many families, and it’s just a remarkable life for Rusty Staub to say the least,” Bogusch said.

Staub passed away just days before his 74th birthday, which would have been Sunday.