Known as "Le Grand Orange" in Montreal, Staub died early Thursday at age 73 in a Florida hospital after a monthlong battle with pneumonia.
Staub's death comes on baseball's opening day, just months after his first team, the Astros, won the World Series for the first time. He's remembered as one of his era's sweetest-swinging hitters, known for delivering in the clutch.
A graduate of New Orleans' Jesuit High School, Staub was 19 when he came to the majors with the expansion Colt. 45s. He struggled for a few years until the team moved to the Astrodome and changed its name to the Astros. In 1967, he made his first of six all-star appearances, hitting .333 and leading the league with 44 doubles, then a team record.
In one of the horrible trades that marked the Astros' early years, Staub was dealt to the expansion Expos for Donn Clendenon, who touched off a legal battle by refusing to go to Houston. Staub, who had angered Astros management with his contract demands, ended up in Montreal. Just three years later, he moved on to the Mets, where he was a fan favorite.
Staub's career also included stints with Detroit and the Texas Rangers. In 2,951 games over 23 seasons, he fashioned one of those near-Hall-of-Fame careers, with 2.716 hits, 292 home runs, 499 doubles, a .279 average and a record-tying 25 pinch-hit RBI.
He's a member of the club who hit home runs in the majors before age 20 and after age 40, along with Ty Cobb, Alex Rodriquez and Gary Sheffield, as the New York Daily News' vintage baseball writer Bill Madden says in a warm appreciation.
As Madden relates, Staub also was a gourmet cook, wine lover and humanitarian who raised millions for police charities and to fight hunger.
Staub was a good restaurateur as well; one of my favorite New York City memories is eating at his ribs place on the upper East Side.
But he'll live in my memory as a teenaged kid with a shock of red hair, patroling right field during my first major league game at steaming Colt stadium.