Wednesday, April 09, 2008

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #61 -- A Legendary Tale of Lunacy, Firearms … and Baseball



This is the sad-but-true story of Eddie Waitkus, the inspiration for The Natural starring Robert Redford. Alas, what follows doesn’t have a happy Hollywood ending.

1) Eddie Waitkus was both a decorated WWII veteran and an All-Star first baseman who played for the Cubs, the Phillies and the Orioles.

2) However, he’s best known as the player who was shot by
a young, beautiful and very looney fan in a Chicago hotel in 1949.

3) She was 19-year-old Ruth Ann Steinhagen. She became obsessed with Eddie when he played for her hometown Cubs. She was furious when he was traded to the Phillies and plotted to destroy him when he returned to Chicago with his new team.

4) Ruth Ann may have been crazy but she wasn’t dumb. She did her homework, checking into the hotel where the Phillies stayed in Chicago and using the name of one of Eddie’s real-life girlfriends.

5) She went to Wrigley Field for the Cub/Phillies game, then returned to the hotel she and Eddie “shared” for a few drinks. She wrote him a note, signed it with her alias, and paid a bellboy $5 to deliver it while she went up to her room. Eddie showed up at her door, hoping for romance.

6) Instead he got a single shotgun blast to the chest. Ruth Ann immediately called the front desk and told the clerk, “I just shot Eddie Waitkus.” If she hadn’t reported her own crime so quickly, he probably would have bled to death.

7) The bullet pierced his lung and lodged between his heart and spine. Because of the location, surgeons decided it was safest to leave the bullet where it was.

8) The next day, after several hours on the operating table, Eddie awoke in his hospital room to police officers and Ruth Ann. He identified her to the authorities with one word, “Shooter.” He later added that he had never met her before and had no idea why she would shoot him.

9) Eddie required four more surgeries and months of rehabilitation in Clearwater, Florida. He heroically returned to the Phillies in 1950 and hit .284 in Philadelphia’s pennant-winning effort.

10) In 1951, Eddie married and started a family that would grow to include a son and daughter.

11) Ruth Ann Steinhagen was tried and found “not guilty” due to insanity. She was committed to a state hospital, underwent shock treatments, and was judged sane and released in 1952.

12) After his career ended in 1955, Eddie suffered through divorce and battled alcoholism. He supported himself by working with kids at Ted Williams’ baseball camp each summer. He often collected unemployment during the winter months.

13) He died in a veterans’ hospital in 1972 at the age of 53. His son blames the bullet that remained in his body for all those years for his father’s lung cancer, saying, "Steinhagen was more successful than she thought.”

PS Thanks to Harlekwin for the KiTTy Banner.

Leave your link in the comments and I'll include you here:
1) Claudia highlights the inspiring Everyday Kindness Challenge
2) Sue introduces us to a merry band of enchanted folk
3) Anthony North takes a different look at saving the planet
4) Candy Minx takes on her condiment "addiction"
5) Nicholas watches movies in an old format
6) Sandycarlson has a moving post about charity
7) Lazy Daisy celebrates the "whites" of Spring
8) Susan Helene Gottfried introduces us to a new character with poetry in his soul
9) Journeywoman has a thoughtful (but still rockin') TT
10) Adelle gives us vacation ideas
11) Lori shares dos and don'ts for the all-important first date
12) Marcia has breaktaking butterfly pix
13) Lisa has an entire TT devoted to the letter J
14) SJR has a movie TT (and I love movie TTs) devoted to Cary Grant
15) Denise vents about a late-blooming spring
16) Alice shares her innovative approach to housework
17) Winter offers up helpful hints for disposing of a body (no, really)
18) Storyteller shares her life story, 4 facts at a time
19) Starrlight proves random can be very funny
20) Laura gives us the skinny on military housing
21) Sassy Mama Bear shares 13 real-live license plates

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Golden Goodie Blast from the Past

A former client contacted me yesterday. He was Mr. Important at a west coast company I worked with back in 2000-2002. His company chose to quit working with the agency I was with … I switched agencies … There was really no need for us stay in contact so we drifted apart.

He happened to come upon my name on a phone list (long story) and shot me an email, referencing my position at my current agency and mentioning how much he enjoyed working with me. How nice! His son is looking at colleges in the Chicago area and he promised to call me next time he's in town … maybe we could go to a Cub game.

I don't think that will ever happen, but it isn't the point. It made me so happy that a Mr. Important would remember little old me after more than 5 years. And he even remembered that I'm a Cub fan! Just yesterday I wrote that we should tell those who are important to us. I guess this is proof, huh?

Things are tenuous at work and on top of it, I took today off. (I had a migraine this morning at about 4:00 AM that felt like it split my head in half.) But this cheers me up. Knowing there are Mr. Importants out there who believe I'm good at my job gives me faith that I'll find work again if I have to.