March 29, 2018 8:43 am
Updated: March 29, 2018 9:40 am

Expos great, Rusty Staub, dead at 73

In this May 1, 1984, file photo, Rusty Staub, pinch hitting for the New York Mets, watches his sixth inning hit to right field against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium in New York. Staub, who became a huge hit with baseball fans in two countries during an All-Star career that spanned 23 major league seasons, died Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Florida. He was 73.

Ron Frehm/AP Photo
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Expos legend, Rusty Staub or le “Grand Orange” as he was affectionately known in Montreal, has died. He was 73.

Staub passed away Thursday morning at a hospital in Florida — the first day of baseball season.

The New York Mets confirmed his death in a tweet Thursday morning.

Born Daniel Joseph Staub, the Montreal baseball icon would have turned 74 on Sunday.

Staub first came to play for the Expos in their inaugural season in 1969 and quickly became a fan favourite not only for his brilliant plays but his willingness to learn French.

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He was nicknamed “Le Grand Orange” for his red hair and is remembered as the team’s first hero.

He was the team’s first player to receive the Expos Player of the Year award, and his #10 jersey was the first number to be retired by the organization.

He spent only three seasons with Montreal before being traded to the Mets but is the franchise’s career leader in on-base percentage (.402), among players with 2,000 or more plate appearances with the franchise.

As news of his Rusty’s passing spread, tributes for the baseball great began pouring in on social media.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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