Rusty Staub, RIP

Posted on March 30, 2018 by Martin Oaks under Community, Memorial

“Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

The words of John Donne came to mind when we heard that Rusty Staub passed away yesterday at the age of 73.

One of the features of death that we at Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory have observed is that the event has many ripples.  One of those ripples is that we are reminded of our own mortality.

This is especially true when we have an acquaintance with the deceased, but not a meaningful interpersonal relationship with them.  A distant, but knowing relationship.

Such was our relationship with Rusty Staub.

For those who don’t remember or don’t know, Staub was a talented Major League Baseball player who performed from 1963- 1985.  During that time, he was a member of a handful of organizations, but he is remembered primarily for his stints with the New York Mets and the Montreal Expos.

Staub was not your ordinary MLB player — his love of food, which was expressed with a divine chef’s touch in the kitchen as well as restaurant ownership, gave him a weight problem that you seldom see on players these days.  In spite of this handicap, he was a magical hitter, a skill which kept his career going for so long.

An off field presence which endeared him to fans in several markets, Staub truly gave back to the community and, when he died, that spirit of his was celebrated around the game.

Yesterday was Opening Day for the 2018 season and Staub’s demise punctuated the normally festive occasion with a bittersweet quality.  Also a sense, as mentioned, for the reason the bell is tolling.

We met Staub in 1974 when he was wrapping up his first tour of duty with the Mets. The previous season he had been a catalyst for the team in a very successful season.  Although they fell short in the World Series against the Oakland A’s (a team which was in its final curtain call as a baseball mini-dynasty), the Mets had whipped the heavily-favored Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series, a feat veteran New York fans still well recall.

Roger Angell, the Hall of Fame baseball writer, noted in a New Yorker piece the concentration and hard work Staub and his teammates exhibited in that surprise win against the Reds — it was not talent, but the work ethic Staub exemplified which carried them to victory.

In ’74, these characteristics were still obvious when we had an opportunity to watch Staub up close.

Off the field, he was much the same: concentrated and full of purpose. He was also an accessible and easy interview.

Easy not just because he was intelligent, but easy because there was a lot to talk about.  Catch him in the right mood and you were liable to fall into a conversation about food — or, if you got to know him a little better, his reluctance about flying.

Staub was not a happy air traveler.  In his major league contract, he had provisions which allowed him to dictate the length of a landing strip for a charter flight.

These personal qualities gave Staub a human sense that fans could understand: there are chinks in even the strongest of armor.

Several years ago, the last time we saw Staub, he didn’t look particularly healthy, so his death was not a complete surprise. But it still reminded of bygone days when “Le Grand Orange,” as he was called because of his shock of red hair, was in his prime, as far from death as could be imagined. We all were. As Ron Darling, another former Met, said yesterday: “Pure baseball, beautiful innocence. Miss those days.”

RIP Rusty Staub.


2 thoughts on “Rusty Staub, RIP

  1. Patrick Barnett says:

    Very popular with Texas fans.

  2. jane winnow says:

    A true gentleman-a great human being -gave and gave to his charities.A exceptional example of a true athlete. RIP Rusty

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