Rusty Staub was remembered for his generous heart at the Rusty Staub Memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday. Staub died last month in Florida at the age of 73.
Staub, a former star with the New York Mets and the only player in Major League Baseball history to have over 500 hits with four teams, was known for the Rusty Staub Foundation and giving to the less fortunate. A two-time honoree at the archdiocese’s annual CYO dinner, he teamed with Catholic Charities to serve over 1,000,000 meals annually to the hungry people of New York.
Here is what was said by friends and fans:
“Rusty has bypassed Cooperstown because on the very first ballot he’s made God’s Hall of Fame in heaven,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities in the archdiocese, in closing his homily.
“He was just a great person and he was my first baseball crush. I had to be here for him. He had a pure, wonderful heart,” said Mets fans Darlene Beattie of Peekskill.
“This was a man of great generosity with a huge heart,” said Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
“He will be missed around the offices. He will be missed at my golf tournaments. He will be missed everywhere,” said Mets owner Jeff Wilpon.
“He would have been great if he never got a hit. I think that says something about him,” said former Mets pitcher and current Mets broadcaster Ron Darling.
“He was a huge part of the city. I think you look at him as a baseball player, but I think millions of New Yorkers may have never known he played baseball because of his heart and what he did for the police and firemen. That’s the most important thing. Baseball is what we do but it’s not who we are. Rusty was definitely more than that,” said former teammate Lee Mazzilli, who was introduced to his wife by Staub.
“He was the first to ever say to me, ‘remember you’re a teacher, no one cares what you know until they know that you care,” said Bobby Valentine, who recalled Staub saying this when a young Valentine was coaching the veteran Staub with the Mets. Staub was older than Valentine.