The Rusty Staub Outfield Switcheroo

On April 28, 1985 the Mets and Pirates got into an 18 inning marathon. It’s memorable for Mets pinch-hitter deluxe, Rusty Staub, switching between playing right field and left field depending on which batter is at the plate. In the game box score, you’ll see this unusual entry: Rusty Staub RF-LF-RF.

By 1985, 41-year-old Rusty Staub is reduced to being a bench player. Once a star right fielder, Staub hasn’t played the outfield in almost 2 years. He’s a master pinch-hitter now. But early in the season the Mets and Pirates get into a marathon extra-inning affair at Shea Stadium.

Related: The Rowdy 1973 NLCS Brawl.

Manager Davey Johnson runs out of players in the 12th inning and is forced to play the slow running Staub in the outfield. But he attempts to limit the chances that Rusty will have to actually field a ball.

Johnson switches Staub between left and right field, alternating with Clint Hurdle, depending on the batter. If the hitter is a lefty, Staub moves over to play left field. If the hitter is a righty, Staub moves over to play right field.

In the top of the 18th inning, with the potential winning run on second base, righty-hitting Pirates pitcher Rick Rhoden hits a lazy fly ball down the right-field line. With the entire stadium holding its collective breath, Staub runs over and makes a shoestring catch below his knees!

Related: Benny Agbayani forgets number of outs.

Rusty Staub wasn’t one of the most popular Mets in team history for no reason. “That was as fast as I could run” Staub told the NY Daily News. The Mets went on to win the game in 18 innings, 5-4. Rusty Staub retired after the 1985 season, just missing out on winning the World Series by one year.