In honor of his bobblehead day on May 26th, the Mets Media Relations department was kind enough to hold a conference call between the great Rusty Staub and several Mets bloggers. Rusty was very nice and accomodating. A range of subjects was covered, from his career, to today’s players, to grilling tips.
Here’s a sampling:
On Pinch Hitting
Rusty kept an eye on the game, and prepared for his late-inning turn at bat. He liked to keep his body temperature up. He’d run up and down the runway – anything to keep from coming in cold.
He described his approach at the plate in pinch-hit situations as “controlled agression.” “When I went up, the game was on the line,” he said.
On Being Gary Carter’s Teammate with the Expos and Mets
“Gary never lost that enthusiasm and drive,” Rusty said of Carter. From his early days with the Expos to his latter days with the Mets, Rusty said Carter kept that enthusiasm throughout his career. Rusty recalled what a huge piece of the puzzle Carter was when he came to the Mets in a trade prior to the 1985 season.
On His Popularity in Montreal and New York
Rusty was asked why he thought he was so popular in Montreal and New York. “First of all, you have to play well,” Rusty said. If you don’t play well, you’re not going to be popular. He said he never thought of himself as being above the fans. And in Montreal, his attempts to learn French didn’t hurt! While he said he was never fluent, the fans appreciated his effort.
On Similarities Between Today’s Mets and His Early ’80s Team
Rusty said comparisons between eras are very difficult.
He did say that the “belittlement” of the Mets before the season was “beyond belief,” and that Mets fans should be proud of the start their team has had so far.
On Playing for Davey Johnson
He recalled that those teams had a total lack of discipline, and could have won more championships than they did, but “he [Johnson] was very very good” on the field. He was his own guy, and had his own style. Rusty said he is happy that Johnson has another shot in the big leagues, and sounded impressed with how the Nationals were playing under Davey’s guidance.
On Making His MLB Debut at Age 19
Rusty said he wasn’t overmatched at the plate, but he was overmatched by day-to-day life in the majors. He said he made some mistakes, but those made him stronger.
He added some advice for today’s players: Don’t listen to the media, and “work your ass off.” Rusty said some guys get complacent when they start making major league money.
On the Toughest LHP and RHP He Ever Faced
“I always said, if I started a team,” Rusty said, “it would be with Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson.”
On Ike Davis
“Ike is messed up in his head,” Rusty said, “it’s beyond comprehension.” Rusty suggested that Ike slow it down, be quieter at the plate – cut down on his hand movements.
“He’s gonna get out of this thing,” he said, even if it means taking a couple of weeks in the minors, something Rusty said he did himself, and it wasn’t easy. He also suggested studying himself when he is going well, so he can see what he is doing well and why.
On the 1973 Season
“It was a tough season,” he said. A bunch of guys got hurt, and he himself said his hands were in terrible pain every day. So much so, that the team gave him 3 days off in August. “A well placed cortisone shot can be effective,” he said. And during his time off, he got 4 shots in his left hand, and 3 in his right. When he came back, he was “astounded by the pop in his hands.”
Rusty went on to say that with pitchers like Seaver, Koosman, “and George Stone was pitching terrific,” he felt they were still in it in late August.
“Concentrate,” Rusty said. You don’t have to stand over the grill all the time, but don’t burn anything. As far as cooking burgers is concerned, Rusty advocates high heat.