After playing for 23 years in the major leagues, Rusty Staub retired at the end of the 1985 season. The next year, July 13, 1986, the Mets inducted him into the Mets Hall of Fame on “Rusty Staub Day”. His former teammates all donned red wigs and stuffed pillows under their shirts.
Maybe you aren’t old enough to remember Daniel Joseph Staub. He was nicknamed “Rusty” because of his flaming red hair. While a member of the Expos in 1969, sportswriter Ted Blackman of the Montreal Gazette gave him the nickname “Le Grand Orange”.
Here’s an example of the respect that the baseball world had for Staub. In addition to being honored with “Rusty Staub Day” at Shea Stadium, he was also the honorary captain for the National League All-Star Team in Houston. Rusty had started his career with the Houston Colt 45’s. He even penned an article about his career’s long journey for that day’s edition of the New York Times.
Here’s the most memorable moment of the “Rusty Staub Day” ceremony, which was hosted by Ralph Kiner. This is also Keith Hernandez‘s favorite memory from Shea Stadium (not counting winning the 1986 World Series). The Mets players come out of the clubhouse wearing red wigs and with pillows stuffed under their uniform shirts.
I think that’s most of the ’86 club – Darryl Strawberry, Roger McDowell, Wally Backman, Gary Carter, Bob Ojeda, Rick Aguilera, even Ed Hearn. You can read more about Rusty and the charitable work that continues in his name at the Rusty Staub Foundation.