The redhead from New Orleans signed with the Houston Colt .45’s in 1961 for a bonus of $110,000. In 1963, at barely 19 years old, Rusty Staub began his baseball career as Houston’s first great rookie hope.
Staub worked harder than most to become the durable, excellent offensive player that his 23-year career revealed him to be. Hall of Fame greats Ted Williams and Duke Snider both described Rusty Staub as one of the greatest pure hitters they had ever seen. By 1967, Rusty’s short left-handed stroke and line drive hitting ability had earned him his 1st All-Star selection as a Houston Astro. A 2nd All-Star Game appearance for Rusty as an Astro followed in 1968. Almost needless to add, Staub’s popularity with Houston fans had grown in proportion to his accomplishments in 6 seasons here.
The controversial trade that sent Rusty Staub to the expansion club Montreal Expos in January 1969 is still a subject of deep regret for most Houston fans. Over the years we’ve come around to accepting the way history has played out in the career of our first symbol of hope for the future of Houston baseball. Apparently Lady Destiny and the Commissioner’s Office wanted Rusty Staub for the starring role as “Le Grande Orange” in Montreal, and so the career of Rusty Staub played out that way—and away from Houston, almost forever, until tonight.
After Montreal (1969–71), Rusty would play for the Mets (1972–75), the Tigers (1976–79), the Expos again (1979), the Rangers (1980), and finally the Mets again (1981–85). Rusty’s batting and fielding lead the Mets to the 1973 World Series. At Detroit, Rusty earned a 5th All-Star Game selection as he also developed into one of the most feared DHs in the American League. In his return to the Mets, Rusty Staub proved himself to be one of the most effective pinch hitters of all time, and was later inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Welcome home to Houston, Texas, Rusty! We honor your accomplishments as though you never went away—because in our hearts, you never did.
* One of only two MLB players (Ty Cobb) to homer prior to age 20 and after age 40.
* Only MLB player to play 500 games and record 500 hits for 4 different teams.
* 1967—.333 BA, Astros record for 27 years.
* 1983—8 consecutive pinch hits tied TBHOFer Dave Philley for the MLB record.
* 1983—Tied MLB record for PH RBI (25).
* 1983—Established MLB record for most pinch-hit appearances in a single season (81).
* All-Star: 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1976
* 1986—Inducted into the N.Y. Mets HoF.