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Mets icon Rusty Staub dead at 73 — on opening day

NEW YORK — Mets icon Daniel “Rusty” Staub has died, the ball club confirmed Thursday. He was 73.

Former New York Mets players Rusty Staub waves to the fans at home plate after the game against the Florida Marlins to commemorate the last regular season baseball game ever played in Shea Stadium on Sept. 28, 2008 in Flushing. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Staub died at a Florida hospital just after midnight Thursday, which is Opening Day, according to the NY Daily News. The paper first broke news of his death.

The right fielder, designated hitter and first baseman played for Houston, the Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers from 1963 – 1985.

Staub was a six-time All-Star and the only player in major league history to have at least 500 hits with four different teams. The orange-haired outfielder became a huge hit with fans in the U.S. and Canada during a career spanning 23 seasons.

He finished 284 hits shy of 3,000 in that time. Affectionately dubbed “Le Grand Orange” in Montreal, he broke into the majors as a teenager with Houston, lasted into his 40s with the Mets and spent decades doing charity work in the New York area.

Staub was with the Mets from 1972 – 1974, and ended his career with the team in 1985 after joining it for a second time in 1981. He was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame a year after his retirement.

The Daily News reports he faced several health issued over the years, and died of multiple organ failure after being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, dehydration and an infection. He was hospitalized for eight weeks before his death.

Staub would have turned 74 this Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.