In every way, Rusty Staub, the beloved Mets’ hitting icon, who passed away early Thursday morning at age 73, was bigger than life — a bigger-than-life baseball personality, humanitarian, gourmet chef, wine connoisseur, friend-to-all and, to the fans of Montreal, quite simply, “Le Grand Orange.”
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. 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 died at 12:30 a.m. Thursday at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach due to multiple organ failure. He was initially admitted with pneumonia, dehydration and an infection and had spent the last eight weeks in the hospital. He would have turned 74 on Sunday.
Staub’s legacy is immense and will be immediately felt at Citi Field Thursday afternoon, when the Mets open their season against the Cardinals.