By Kevin Glew
Canadian Baseball Network
Montreal Expos legend and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Staub passed away early Thursday morning at the age of 73.
Staub, who had been in a West Palm Beach, Fla., hospital for eight weeks, reportedly died from multiple organ failure. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reported that Staub had been suffering from a number of ailments, including "cellulitis, which evolved into a blood infection that resulted in a shutdown of his kidneys." The Expos icon had previously recovered from a heart attack he suffered on a flight from Ireland to New York in October 2015.
Nicknamed “Rusty” for his red hair, Staub was affectionately known as “Le Grande Orange” to Expos fans for the same reason. He was the Expos’ sole all-star representative in the club’s first three seasons (1969-71). The left-handed hitting slugger played 518 games for the Expos and owns the highest cumulative on-base percentage (.402) in franchise history.
His attempts to learn the French language while in Montreal, as well as his charitable work off the field, endeared him to the French-Canadian fans and his uniform number (10) was first jersey ever retired by the Expos.
"Rusty Staub was our country's first major league superstar," said Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's director of operations in a statement. "He may have only played three-and-a-half seasons with the Montreal Expos, but he gave his heart and soul to the franchise and to the city of Montreal. He immersed himself in the city's culture as much as any Expo and the fans loved him for it. It was evident when he returned to Canada for his induction into our Hall of Fame in 2012 that part of his heart still belonged to the city of Montreal and its baseball fans. Today is a sad day. We'll miss Le Grande Orange, but we'll never forget him."
In all, in parts of 23 major league seasons from 1963 to 1985, Staub registered 2,716 hits. He remains the only player in major league history to chalk up more than 500 hits for four different teams (Houston, Montreal, Detroit, New York Mets).
Since the announcement of his passing, tributes to Staub have been pouring in on Twitter: