One of the most popular players in franchise history Rusty Staub had two successful stints with the Mets. The Mets first acquired Staub from the Montreal Expos on April 6, 1972 in exchange for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton.
Staub singled in his first at bat as a Met on April 15, 1972 but injuries limited him to just 66 games for the season. But he did manage to hit .293 with 9 home runs and 38 RBIs. In 1973 he played an integral part as the Mets won the National League Eastern Division by hitting .279 with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs, the most on the team, while also setting a franchise record with 36 doubles. But it was in the postseason where he cemented his legacy in Met history. In the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds Staub hit 3 home runs, 2 in game 3game 3, and drove in 5 runs as the Mets upset the Reds in 5 games to win the National League Pennant. Unfortunately, he also injured his shoulder when he crashed into the outfield wall. The injury hampered his ability to throw but not his ability to hit. In the World Series against the Oakland A’s, Staub was the Mets leading hitter with a .423 average and also led the team with 6 RBIs. In game 4 he hit a home run and drove in 5 runs as the Mets won 6-1 to even the series at 2 games apiece. Unfortunately, it was not enough as the Mets lost the series in 7 games.
Rusty had a very similar season in 1974 once again leading the team in RBIs with 78 but hit just .258. 1975 turned out to be his best season with the Mets, he set a franchise record with 105 RBIs, a record that would stand for 15 seasons until Darryl Strawberry broke it with 108 in 1990.
Despite his success the Mets traded Staub to the Detroit Tigers in the offseason along with minor leaguer Bill Laxton in exchange for pitcher Mickey Lolich and outfielder Billy Baldwin.
It was a trade the Mets would come to regret as Staub went on to become one of the most productive run producers while Lolich had a mediocre season for the Mets and then retired.
Rusty returned to the Mets in 1981 as a free agent and would play 5 seasons with the Mets before retiring after the 1985 season. In his first season back with the Mets Staub played first base and hit .317 with 5 home runs and 21 RBIs. In 1982 he served as a player/coach and split time between the outfield and first base but hit just .242 with 3 home runs and 28 RBIs.
From 1983 to 1985 Staub served primarily as a pinch hitter and became the most preeminent pinch hitter in the league.
In 1983 he tied the Major League record for most consecutive pinch hits with eight. He also tied the single season Major League record with 25 pinch hit RBI’s. In 1984 Staub hit just one home run, but that one home run put him in exclusive company as he became just the second player to hit a home run before his 20th birthday and after his 40th birthday, the other player was Hall of Famer ty Cobb.
Rusty Staub retired following the 1985 season. In his 9 seasons with the Mets Staub appeared in 942 games and hit .276 with 75 home runs and 399 RBIs. He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986.
Following his playing career Staub spent 10 seasons in the Mets broadcast booth
While with the Mets Staub wore number 4 from 1972 to 1975 and number 10 from 1981 to 1985.
Rusty Staub also played for the following teams:
Houston Astros – 1963-1968
Montreal Expos – 1969-1971, 1979
Detroit Tigers – 1976-1979
Texas Rangers – 1980
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