Realm of Red: Redhead of the Week

July 17, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Each week (or so) I will profile various redheads who paved the way for our own Thunder Matt. These men and women opened doors (often times kicking them in due to their fiery tempers) that would have otherwise kept Thunder Matt toiling in Independent Baseball leagues, shagging fly balls in Newark and frequenting seedy hotels. We tip our Cubs hats to these fair-skinned pioneers.

Today's Redhead: Rusty Staub

Rusty, you portly sumbitch. The year was 1984. My first year of actively collecting baseball cards. Topps was my weapon of choice. Eagerly tearing into a bubblegum stained pack (always pick the second pack from the top), I hoped to find the elusive Mel Hall, or perhaps the durable and bespectacled Kent Tekulve to add to my collection. Instead, I got Rusty Staub.

"Who is this guy?" I wondered aloud, itching my butt. "A good candidate for my bike spokes, that's who!" shouted the running dialogue in my head.

But then I looked at the back of the card. I always loved cards that were filled edge to edge with years of experience. What struck me was that he played for some outfit known as the Colt .45's. Glorious! To this day it remains the only beer I will drink.

Rusty was the 'original Expo' (what an honor!) and was nicknamed 'Le Grande Orange'. I don't speak Russian but I think that means 'fat redhead'. This nickname was later stolen by his archrival, Qbert.

Always one to drive the ball into a gap for 'legged out doubles', Rusty made the All-Star team 4 years, all of which I surmise must have been as an injury replacement.

And here's a classic ditty. In the World Series in 1973 an injury left Rusty able to only throw the ball underhanded for the entire series. Wow, that helps out your team. Hit the cutoff man, hit the cutoff man! Oh wait, he's on the warning track and can only throw underhanded. Well, shit now what? I guess run out there and have him bowl it to you. Fuck it. Just let the run score I guess. Goddamn it Rusty!

Rusty was also the first player to play 162 games as a DH. This was so that he had more time in the dugout to ravage the clubhouse spread. Rusty, never a careful eater, once consumed teammate Tim McCarver's son, Mustang. Look up Mustang McCarver. Can't find him. Rusty ate him.

In recent years, Rusty auditioned for the role of Boss Hogg in the movie adaptation of "The Dukes of Hazzard", only to lose the role to Burt Reynolds. Said Rusty of the disappointment, "That's ok. I'm Rusty Staub. I bounce back. That's just what I do." Sage advice that we should all heed from this red headed prophet.

Rusty currently fronts 'The Rusty Staub Foundation', an egomaniacal endeavor that is actually a front for an elaborate chop shop. Rusty Staub may or may not have his GED.