Beloved Mets legend Rusty Staub dies at 73

Rusty Staub, beloved New York Mets legend and 23-year MLB veteran, died early Thursday of multiple organ failure at a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was 73, and would have turned 74 on Sunday.

Staub spent his 23-year career with five teams, and from his 1963 debut through his last season in 1985, he hit .279/.362/.431 with 2,716 hits, 499 doubles, and 292 home runs. He played for at least four seasons for four different teams: the New York Mets, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, and Montreal Expos. That was more than enough time for any fanbase to fall in love with Rusty. While he’s not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Staub is a member of the New York Mets Hall of Fame, the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Most of his playing years were spent with the Mets, a total of nine season over two different stints. Rusty loved New York, and New York loved him back. In 1973 he helped the Mets pull off a breathtaking comeback to secure the NL pennant, and hit .341/.413/.683 in the postseason, earning himself a spot in Mets lore forever. He was the perfect player for New York in that era: tough, fun, and full of personality.

Staub also spent time with the Houston Astros, making his MLB debut with them when they were still called the Colt 45s. When he played for the Montreal Expos, they called him Le Grand Orange, which is one of the greatest baseball nicknames ever. All told, he’s the only man in MLB history to notch at least 500 hits with four different teams. In 1975 became the first Mets player ever to drive in 100 runs in a season, and in 1983 he tied the all-time record for consecutive pinch hits, at 8.

Take a look back at Staub's storied career: 

24 PHOTOS
Mets icon Daniel 'Rusty' Staub through his career
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Mets icon Daniel 'Rusty' Staub through his career
Rusty Staub of the Colt 45's smiles in uniform.
(Original Caption) New York, N.Y.: Head and shoulders portrait of New York Mets' Daniel 'Rusty' Staub at Shea Stadium, wearing his uniform.
(Original Caption) Apache Junction, Arizona: Dave Philly, who at 41 years old is the oldest player with the Colt 45's, gives a batting tip to Houston's youngest, 17 year old Rusty Staub.
Maury Wills, Rusty Staub and Don Shaw. April 09, 1969. (Photo by William Jacobellis/New York Post/Photo Archives, LLC via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Houston Astros outfielder Rusty Staub.
FLUSHING, NY - UNDATED: Rusty Staub of the New York Mets pauses for the camera at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York circa 1970's. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
FLUSHING, NY - UNDATED: Rusty Staub of the New York Mets heads for first base against the Cincinnati Reds and runs for first at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York circa 1972. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Rusty Staub. June 05, 1972. (Photo by William N. Jacobellis/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
American professional baseball player Rusty Staub poses for a picture, late 1970s. Staub wears an open shirt with the collar over the lapel of his jacket. Staub played Major League baseball from 1963 to 1985. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - CIRCA 1979: Rusty Staub #6 of the Montreal Expos bats against the Philadelphia Phillies during an Major League Baseball game circa 1979 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Staub played for the Expos from 1969-71 and 1979. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
New York Mets baseball team member, Rusty Staub, in 1981.
CIRCA 1985: Rusty Staub of the New York Mets poses for a photo, circa 1985. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)
Winners of the rib-eating contest at Rusty Staub's rib emporium -- eating 36 ribs in three minutes are New York Mets Howard Johnson (left) & New York Jets Rocky Klever (right). Rusty Staub holds up the winners' hands. January 27, 1986. (Photo by Nury Hernandez/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY - MARCH 14: Rusty Staub attends Irish America Magazine American Heroes Benefit on March 14, 2002 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Arthur Tannenbaum, Mr. Met and Rusty Staub during Everybody Wins! Third Annual Gala at Waldor Astoria Starlight Roof in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by J. Countess/WireImage for Loving & Company)
Rusty Staub at The 6th Annual Major League Baseball Players Alumni Dinner, ath the Hilton New York, on November 18, 2005 (Photo by E. Dougherty/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Former New York Mets players Rusty Staub waves to the fans at home plate after the game against the Florida Marlins to commemorate the last regular season baseball game ever played in Shea Stadium on September 28, 2008 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets plan to start next season at their new stadium Citi Field after playing in Shea for over 44 years. (Photo by: Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11: Board member Daniel J. 'Rusty' Staub speaks during the 27th Annual Gala Of The New York Police And Fire Widows' And Children's Benefit at Park Avenue Armory on October 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: Former New York Mets player Rusty Staub throws out the first pitch to Catcher Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets before the game against the San Diego Padres on Opening Day at Citi Field on April 1, 2013 in New York City. Mets beat the Padres, 11-2. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Rusty Staub attends The 2013 New York Police and Fire Widows' And Children's Benefit Fund at The Waldorf=Astoria on October 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Former New York Met Rusty Staub with thrd base coach Tim Teufel #18 after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before game three of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on October 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Dodgers 13-7. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Rusty Staub attends the 13th Annual Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Celebrity Gala at Cipriani Downtown on November 12, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York for the Roman Catholic Church(C) and Rusty Staub (2nd from L), speak to the media before helping hand out food for Thanksgiving meals to those in need at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center on November 24, 2015 in the Harlem neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of New York City. Approximately 700 meals were distributed. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Rusty Staub attends the 31st Annual Answer The Call Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on October 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
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Staub would fit right in with baseball today. Not just because of his outsized personality, but because of his reputation as a tough negotiator for himself. When he played for the Tigers in 1979, he sat out all of spring training and the first month of the season to try and get a contract extension. Staub was also active in the then-new Players Association, which is what led to his trade from the Tigers back to the Expos later that year.

Though he loved Montreal, New York was his baseball home. He hit free agency for the first time in 1980 and signed with the Mets. Despite a promise that he’d be their every day first baseman, Staub spent the last five years of his career as a pinch hitter.

After he retired, Staub dedicated his time to many philanthropic causes. He started a foundation, which in turn started the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which helps the families of New York area police and fire fighters killed in the line of duty. In January, just a few months before he died, he announced that his foundation had served over nine million meals over the last ten years to the needy of New York.

The Mets open their season on Thursday at Citi Field. Staub’s absence will be felt by everyone there.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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