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Rusty Staub, a six-time All-Star who became a popular figure at the New York Mets and Montreal Expos, died on early Thursday morning. Dust, who would have celebrated his 74th birthday on Sunday, died of multiple organ failure in Palm Beach, Florida, after The New York Daily News . The Mets acknowledged his death in a statement later on Thursday, divulging that the man known as "Le Grand Orange" is "missed by everyone."

A 23-year-old major league veteran played dust with five different teams in a long, winding career that started in 1961, when he signed at age 17 to the Houston Astros, then called Colt .45s. After his major league debut with the club in 1963, he went on to score at least 500 hits with four franchises – the Astros, Expos, Mets and Detroit Tigers – and retired as a .279 career hitter with 292 home runs and 1,466 RBI.

Dust was widely loved by Mets fans during his nine years with the team that included a four-year stint in the early 1970s and a return nearly 10 years later, when the outfielder and first baseman approached 40 became 1986, in the year after retirement, added to the team's Hall of Fame.

Dust, a native of New Orleans, also made three All-Star Appearances in four seasons with the fairs, as arguably the first star player for the newly created franchise emerging. Despite his relatively short tenure with the team, Montreal retired his jersey number in 1993; Staub was one of only four players to receive this award before the 2005 franchise was moved to Washington DC.

After resigning from baseball, Dust devoted much of his time to charitable causes through his charitable organization The Rusty Dust Foundation. According to the Foundation's website, over the past few decades it has been donating millions of meals to the hungry and raising more than $ 17 million in donations to organizations that share the state mission "for the benefit of youth (and) against hunger".

"He was almost as famous for his philanthropic work as for his baseball career," the Mets said. Rusty helped children, the poor, the elderly, and then there was his pride and joy, the New York Police and Fire Widow and Child Assistance Fund. "" There was no reason he did not stand up. "

As his charity work continued, dust has begun to struggle with serious health problems in recent years, including a heart attack in 2015 during a flight. Earlier this month, Staub's friends publicly asked for prayers while Staub fought kidney failure, with Mets announcing in a statement to the New York Post that team leaders Fred and Jeff Wilpon had been in contact with the former star. We all wish Rusty and his loved ones all the best in his courageous fight.

Contact Tom Schad at chad@usatoday.com or Twitter @Tom_Schad .

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