Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Rusty Staub. Staub was born on April 1, 1944, just as the Red Army was driving the Germans out of the Ukraine. He signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45’s in 1961 and after just one season in Class B he was with the big league club. Staub was a great player for the Astros, making the All-Star team in 1967 and 1968. In the offseason the Astros made a surprising move, sending their 26-year old All-Star to the expansion Montreal Expos in exchange for Donn Clendenon and Jesus Alou. The trade was tricky was the Astros had just hired Harry Walker during the 1968 season to manage the team and Clendenon had clashed with him during their time in Pittsburgh, so Clendenon refused to go to Houston. After some tricky negotiations they finalized the deal and Staub reported to Montreal.
Staub was almost immediately a hero in Montreal. Because of his orange hair, he became known as “Le Grand Orange”. He learned basic French, he was all about being around the community, and he was good. From 1969 through 1971 he made three All-Star teams, hit .296/.404/.501 and averaged 26 homeruns, 90 RBI, and 99 walks to only 65 strikeouts. Then came another startling moment. The Expos’ face, Staub, was traded right before the season to the Mets for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen, and Ken Singleton. Expos fans were stunned, as was Staub.
In his first season with the Mets he was off to a strong start until he was hit by a pitch against Atlanta, fracturing his wrist. He played for two weeks before X-rays revealed the fracture. Despite play only 66 games he still managed an .824 OPS. The next season 118 OPS+ helped a weak Mets team (82-79 record) to the World Series, ultimately losing the A’s in seven. Then after the 1975 season he was dealt to Detroit in December for Billy Baldwin and Mickey Lolich.
Staub played well in Detroit. Then in July of 1979 he was sent back to Montreal. In his very first game back in Montreal the public address announcer didn’t even get to say his name before the crowd erupted as he stepped to the on deck circle. He played 38 games for the Expos, hitting solidly enough that the Expos finished just one game in the loss column behind the eventual World Series champion Pirates.
The following year he signed with Texas before going back to the Mets for the last five seasons of his incredible career. Overall he finished with 2,716 career hits. The best part is that had 709 with the Mets (nine seasons), 792 with Houston (six), 531 with the Expos (four), 582 with Detroit (four), and 102 with Texas (one). He is the only player in major league history 500 hits with four different franchises.