I knew Rusty Staub wasn’t in good health since his heart attack in October 2015 on a flight home from Ireland. Now, I read in The Post where he is battling kidney failure.
He’s not responding to dialysis and that’s not good at all. When his friends are requesting prayers, it’s chilling news, as a matter, of fact.
“Fred and Jeff Wilpon have been in contact with Rusty to wish him well,’’ the Mets said in a statement. “In addition, multiple people in our organization have also been in contact with Rusty. All of us wish Rusty and his loved ones well in his courageous battle.’’
We all have our own memories of Rusty. I have two, one as a player, and one of him personally.
As a player, I always knew he was a great hitter. Not a power hitter, but a somebody you always wanted up in the clutch.
It was during the NLCS in 1973 against Cincinnati – the one with the Bud Harrelson–Pete Rose brawl – but my enduring memory came in the 11th inning of Game 4 when Staub crashed into the right field wall to rob Dan Driessen of extra-bases.
Staub sustained a separated shoulder that kept him out of Game 5 of the NLCS and Game 1 of the World Series against Oakland. Despite playing in considerable pain and unable to throw, he managed to hit .423 with a homer and six RBI in the Series and needed the center fielder and/or second baseman to take his weak throws.
It was one of the most remarkable performances while playing injured in franchise history.
I always admired him for that, for his help and financial aid to first responders, plus his expertise as a wine sommelier. Oh yeah, I always liked his ribs.
But, I covered the Yankees at the time and never had an opportunity to cross paths with him. Anyway, I was at Logan Airport one day waiting to board a flight that was delayed when I looked up from my paper and noticed Staub buried in a magazine.
I walked up to him, introduced myself and told him how much I admired him for his performance in the 1973 Series. I only wanted to say hello, but he was so gracious and we wound up talking for the rest of the delay about a myriad of topics.
Of course, I had a lot of questions for him but didn’t gush over him, but he also had many for me. I’ve seen him at Shea Stadium a number of times since and he remembered and was always gracious.
One of my favorite Mets, most definitely, and he’s in my prayers. I hope he’s in yours, too.