MLB star Rusty Staub dead at 73

Rusty Staub, an MLB star affectionately known as "Le Grand Orange" for his crop of copper-colored hair, died Thursday morning, the New York Mets confirmed. He was 73.

The Mets, one of five teams Staub played for during a 23-year MLB career, noted earlier this spring that Staub's health was failing and asked for prayers, The New York Post reported.

Mostly playing rightfield, Staub hit .279 with a .362 on-base percentage and 292 home runs with the Mets, Houston Colt .45's and Astros, Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers from 1963-1985. A six-time All-Star, Staub finished fifth in American League MVP voting in 1978 when he batted .273 with 24 home runs and 121 RBIs for the Tigers.

Staub's New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund has donated more than $120 million to families of fallen New York City police and firefighters since its inception in 1986. The fund has received more than $100 million in donations since the 9/11 attacks, The New York Daily News reported.

"The Mets family suffered another loss earlier today when Daniel 'Rusty' Staub passed away in a West Palm Beach Hospital after an illness," the Mets said in a statement on Thursday. "He was almost as well known for his philanthropic work as he was for his career as a baseball player, which spanned 23 seasons. There wasn't a cause he didn't champion. Rusty helped children, the poor, the elderly and then there was his pride and joy, The New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund."

Staub, born in New Orleans in 1944, would have turned 74 on Sunday.