Monday, January 10, 2011

If I were gay, I’d blame it on Rusty Staub.

Staub played right field for the ’72 Mets and was my favorite baseball player. He wasn’t the greatest player, but that wasn’t important. What was important was his hair and how he ran off the field. Odd attributes for an 8 year old to latch on to.

Staub, born Daniel Joseph Staub, had longish, auburn hair that gently escaped his cap, curling upward like smoke. I had similar hair that reacted the same way to ball caps. His socks extended to his kneecaps and he kept his jersey loose, which was odd at the time, and often rolled up his shirtsleeves, exposing his freckled arms. He looked a little unkempt.

At the end of an inning, Staub would take off his glove and place it under his left armpit before running off the field. His oversized uniform bounced in rhythm to his stride as his left arm, saddled to his side, secured his glove. Whether it was the addition of the glove or just the way he ran, Staub’s movement were very effeminate, fey. Even to an 8 year old, I could tell that he didn’t run like the other players.

38 years later, his hair and effeminate manner is the only thing I remember about him. A quick check of the Internet reveals that Staub played 22 years in the majors - a huge feat for a baseball player. And it also revealed that there are others out there like me. I’m not alone in my assessment. Along with Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza, Staub is 3rd inline to be outed by the Internet. However, for as many outers, they’re an equal amount of “straight defenders.”

Like I said, if were gay, this would’ve been a great story. My Wonder Woman, my Barbie, my Ken, my Rusty Staub.

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