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On This Date in Sports June 26, 1983

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Rusty Staub of the New York Mets becomes just the second player to have a hit in eight straight pinch-hitting appearances. Staub leads off the ninth inning at Shea Stadium with the Mets trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 8-4 and delivers a hit, batting for catcher Junior Ortiz. Despite Staub’s hit, the Mets rally fizzles as they leave the bases loaded with Keith Hernandez popping up and George Foster grounding out to end the game.

Born in New Orleans on April 1, 1944, Daniel Joseph Staub, nicknamed Rusty for his red hair began his career with the Houston Colt .45’s shortly after his 19th birthday in 1963. After establishing himself as an All-Star with the Astros, Staub was traded to the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969. In Montreal, Rusty Staub was immediately embraced due in part to his Cajun heritage becoming the Expos first All-Star. Nicknamed by fans “Le Grande Orange”, Staub had some of his best seasons with the early Expos teams, hitting a career-high 30 home runs in 1970. After three years in Montreal, Rusty Staub was surprisingly traded to the New York Mets before the 1972 season. In New York, Staub played a key role in leading the Mets to the 1973 World Series and was the first Mets player to have 100 RBI in a season in 1975. Despite this, he was traded again to the Detroit Tigers.

After continued success in Detroit, Rusty Staub returned to Montreal at the end of the 1979 season. In 1980, he spent one season with the Texas Rangers, before returning to the Mets to help lead a young developing team as a player-coach. Still a solid hitter, Rusty Staub could have signed with an American League team as a Designated Hitter and played regularly enough to compile 3,000 hits. However, a chef in the off-season Rusty Staub had opened a restaurant, specializing in bar-b-que ribs in Manhattan. In his second his second go around with the Mets, Rusty Staub established himself as one of baseball’s best pinch hitters, while playing a key leadership role for upcoming stars like Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, and Wally Backman.

With seven straight successful pinch hits, Frank Howard called upon Rusty Staub to pinch hit for catcher Junior Ortiz, leading off the ninth inning in the first game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. Things looked good for the Mets early, as Hubie Brooks put them in front in the fourth inning with a three-run home run off John Denny. However, Tom Seaver gave the lead right back as Joe Lefebvre hit a three-run homer in the fifth to give Philadelphia a 5-4 lead as Ron Reed silenced the Mets bats for the next four innings. Seaver’s struggles continued as future satellite dish installer Bo Diaz touched him up for a two-run shot to make it 7-4 in the sixth. Von Hayes meanwhile go an RBI off Jesse Orosco single driving in Joe Morgan in the seventh to make it 8-4. Going into the ninth Ron Reed had retired 12 straight Mets, but Rusty Staub ended that string with a leadoff single in the ninth. After Brian Giles lined out the Mets got hits from Bob Bailor and Hubie Brooks to load the bases. Phillies Manager Paul Owens called up Al Holland to get the final outs. Holland proceeded to get the newly acquired Keith Hernandez to pop up behind home plate, George Foster followed by grounding out Mike Schmidt at third. The loss went to Tom Seaver who fell to 5-7, while Tug McGraw earned his first win of 1983, ending the Mets fourth inning rally.

Rusty Staub continued to remain a pinch hitter with the Mets until 1985 when he retired with 2,716 hits ranking among the best hitters, not in the Hall of Fame. Staub who had 792 hits in Houston, 709 hits with the Mets, 582 hits with the Tigers and 531 hits with the Expos is the only player in Major League history with at least 500 hits with four different teams. He is also one of four players along with Ty Cobb, Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez to hit a home run as a teenager and after turning 40 in the majors. After his career, Staub remained closely aligned with the Mets and helped start a charity to help support the families of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty in New York.