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Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus.jpg
First baseman
Born: (1919-09-04)September 4, 1919
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died: September 16, 1972(1972-09-16) (aged 53)
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 15, 1941 for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 20, 1955 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Career statistics
Batting average .285
Hits 1,214
Runs batted in 373
Career highlights and awards

Edward Stephen Waitkus (September 4, 1919 – September 16, 1972) was a Lithuanian-American first baseman in Major League Baseball who had an 11-year career (1941, 1946–1955). He played for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies in the National League and for the Baltimore Orioles of the American League. He was elected to the National League All-Star team twice (1948 and 1949).

Early career[edit]

Waitkus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, grew up in Boston. He began his pro career in 1938 playing for the Worumbo Indians, a semi-pro team sponsored by Worumbo Woolen Mill in Lisbon Falls, Maine. As a rookie, he was known as "the natural," which gave the title to the book loosely based on his life. He saw some of the bloodier fighting of World War II with the U.S. Army in the Philippines, awarded four Bronze Stars. Upon his return to baseball he quickly became a star for the Chicago Cubs. He also became a popular media figure, as he was well-educated and was fluent in the Lithuanian, Polish, German and French languages.[1] Following the 1948 season, the Cubs traded Waitkus with Hank Borowy to the Philadelphia Phillies for Monk Dubiel and Dutch Leonard.


Just a few years into the start of what seemed a very promising career, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, an obsessed fan, shot Waitkus at Chicago's Edgewater Beach Hotel on June 14, 1949,[2] in one of the earliest recognized cases of criminal stalking.[3] Steinhagen had become infatuated with him when he was a Cub, but seeing him every day in-season may have kept her obsession in check.

Once he was traded to the Phillies, Steinhagen's obsession grew to dangerous proportions. She checked into the hotel using the alias of a former high school classmate of his and left a note at the desk, asking him to come to her hotel room on an urgent matter.

When he arrived in her room, she shot him with a .22 caliber rifle, the bullet barely missing his heart. She immediately called the desk to report the shooting and was found cradling his head in her lap.[3]

He nearly died several times on the operating table before the bullet was successfully removed. Steinhagen never stood trial but instead was confined to a mental institution. The incident is discussed at length in one of the Fireside Book of Baseball entries.

In uniform on the night of August 19, 1949, for the first time since he had been shot in Chicago, Waitkis was feted by the Phillies on "Eddie Waitkus Night" at Shibe Park and showered with gifts. After the 1950 season, Waitkus was named the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year.[4]

Later life[edit]

Prior to the 1954 season, the Baltimore Orioles purchased Waitkus from the Philadelphia Phillies for $40,000 ($351,276 in current dollar terms). Released by the Orioles in 1955, he returned to the Phillies[5] for the remainder of the season. After the 1955 baseball season was complete, the Phillies released Waitkus.[6]

Waitkus taught at Ted Williams' baseball camp before passing away of esophageal cancer at age 53.[7]

The Natural[edit]

Author Bernard Malamud, not a baseball fan himself, wove the basic elements of the Waitkus story and other baseball legends (notably that of Joe Jackson) into The Natural.[8] The book was published in 1952 and was made into a Hollywood film starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close released in 1984.

The film's DVD features a biography of Waitkus and notes writers called him "a natural" early in his career. Malamud's novel ends tragically and foreshadowed the end of Waitkus's career.


  1. ^ Marshall, William (1999). Baseball's Pivotal Era, 1945–1951. Kentucky, USA: University Press of Kentucky. p. 528. ISBN 9780813120416. 
  2. ^ "Silly Honey". Time. June 27, 1949. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Andrews, Dale (March 26, 2013). "Stalker". SleuthSayers. 
  4. ^ "Waitkus, Who Beat Death Rap, 'Comeback King'". Ellensburg Daily Record. November 10, 1950. p. 3. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  5. ^ Phillies sign Eddie Waitkus
  6. ^ Phillies release Waitkus, Lowrey; Sell Bob Kuzava
  7. ^ Munich tragedy has happened before
  8. ^ "This Day in Philly Sports History: A Demented Fan and the Natural". PhillySportsHistory.com. June 14, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Waitkus — Please support Wikipedia.
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44 videos foundNext > 

The Eddie Waitkus Shooting

The story of Eddie Waitkus being shot by a crazed and obsessive fan.

90210 Eddie Waitkus

90210 Eddie Waitkus finding Jack's address

Eddie Waitkus

Eddie Waitkus David E. Williams ℗ 2015 David E. Williams Released on: 2005-11-01 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Remembering Ruth Ann Steinhagen, Malachi Throne, Steve Davis, Claude King

The Stalker RUTH ANN, FALSE-FACE, THE SOONER QUARTERBACK, AND WOLVERTON MOUNTAIN Ruth Ann Steinhagen was a young Chicago woman who became obsessed with a Chi...

Wax Pack Party! 1983 Topps


1951 Topps Complete Full Set [106 Cards]

1951 Topps Complete Full Set .1 Eddie Yost (Blue-Back) .2 Hank Majeski .3 Richie Ashburn .4 Del Ennis .5 Johnny Pesky .6 Red Schoendienst .7 Gerry Staley RC ...

Damon Waitkus - Many Thousands of Airplanes

The first movement of Damon Waitkus' "Many Thousands of Airplanes", performed at the 2009 Switchboard Music Festival. Jon Russell, conductor.

Us Baseball Season Opens (1950)

Unused / unissued material - dates and locations unclear or unknown. US Baseball season opens. United States of America. MS Connie Mack with Manager Bucky Ha...

Debbie Waitkus, 2012 Tribute to Leadership, Sports Leader

YWCA Maricopa County's 2012 Tribute to Leadership Centennial Gala and Awards honoring Debbie Waitkus, Sports Leader, March 10, 2012. Sponsored by DHL Express...

44 videos foundNext > 

108 news items

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 04:11:15 -0800

Fun trivia: There's a lot of fantasy woven throughout this (it's not hard to find parallels to "The Odyssey," or the King Arthur legends) but also some real-life details: In 1949, Eddie Waitkus of the Phillies was shot by a crazed fan, too (like Roy ...
New York Times
Sat, 23 Mar 2013 14:35:21 -0700

On the night of June 14, 1949, a young woman gave an enormous tip — $5 — to a bellhop at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago to deliver a note to another guest, Eddie Waitkus, the first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, who were in town to play ...
Chicago Tribune
Thu, 14 Mar 2013 18:28:27 -0700

The Chicago woman whose near-fatal 1949 shooting of former Cubs first baseman Eddie Waitkus inspired the book and movie "The Natural" died with the same anonymity with which she lived for more than half a century. The 19-year-old's crime, which put a ...
Mon, 18 Mar 2013 09:58:31 -0700

Ruth Ann Steinhagen, the obsessed Cubs fan who shot Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, a former Cub, in a Chicago hotel on June 14, 1949, inspiring the pivotal event of Bernard Malamud's The Natural, died of natural causes on Dec. 29, a fact that ...
WBEZ (blog)
Tue, 03 Apr 2012 06:38:09 -0700

The baseball season opens this week. Before we become too involved in the annual tragedies of the Sox and Cubs, let's pause to consider an actual Chicago baseball tragedy: the story of Eddie Waitkus. Unlike some other baseball players, Eddie did not ...


Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:18:45 -0700

A game between an all-black team and the Ku Klux Klan in 1925 in Wichita, Kan.; the shooting of Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus in Chicago by a deranged female stalker (basis for the book/movie ''The Natural''), and Eddie Klep, the Caucasion who ...
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:22:30 -0700

Roy trailed the anonymous crowd out of Northwest Station and clung to the shadowy part of the wall till he had the courage to call a cab. "Do you go to the Stevens Hotel?" he asked, and the driver without a word shot off before he could rightly be ...

Esquire (blog)

Esquire (blog)
Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:14:08 -0700

The Secret Service asked Fein and Vossekuil to look at the cases; they responded with what Fein calls "an operational study" of every attack on a public official or public figure since Ruth Ann Steinhagen shot baseball player Eddie Waitkus in her hotel ...

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