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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
MLB statistics
Batting average .285
Home runs 24
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, and was 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 ($352,466 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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33 videos foundNext > 

The Eddie Waitkus Shooting

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

90210 Eddie Waitkus finding Jack's address

The Unnatural Shooting of Eddie Waitkus

Provided to YouTube by CDBaby The Unnatural Shooting of Eddie Waitkus · Chuck Brodsky The Baseball Ballads ℗ 2002 Chuck Brodsky Released on: ...

Wax Pack Party! 1983 Topps


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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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.

Debbie Waitkus, 2012 Tribute to Leadership, Sports Leader



33 videos foundNext > 

111 news items

New York Times

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 ...


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)

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 ...
Comox Valley Record
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 15:03:45 -0800

The Comox Valley Cubs are in Florida for the annual Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers. The team left town Thursday afternoon. Playing in the 60+ division, the Cubs will compete with about 50 other teams. The total of all divisions is almost 300 teams.
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 ...


Wed, 02 Apr 2014 11:07:23 -0700

Excerpted from Eddie and the Gun Girl, a Kindle Single about the shooting of Eddie Waitkus, the real-life event that's best known as the fictional pivot of Bernard Malamud's The Natural. Annotations by the author appear throughout.

Allentown Morning Call

Allentown Morning Call
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 16:39:51 -0700

The batting order for Sawyer's 1950 Whiz Kids: first, Eddie Waitkus, who recovered from a 1949 gunshot wound by a crazed female admirer, at first base; second, Ashburn in center field with a .303 batting average and a league-leading 14 triples; third ...

Kansas City Star

Kansas City Star
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 08:00:00 -0700

In 1949, when she was just 19, the infamous stalker shot and nearly killed Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, whom she began obsessing over when he played for the Cubs. She was literally crazy about him, turning her bedroom into a shrine to him ...

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