Summary

Birth:
04 Sep 1919 1
Cambridge, MA 1
Death:
September 16, 1972 (aged 53) Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 1
Jamaica Plain, MA 1
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Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Ruth Ann Steinhagen letter
Ruth Ann Steinhagen letter
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus is honored by Phillies fans at Shibe Park on Aug. 19, 1949, when he was in uniform for the first time since being shot two months earlier. He played on Philadelphia's pennant-winning team in 1950.
Hotel Room
Hotel Room
Room 1297A at the Edgewater Beach Hotel where baseball player Eddie Waitkus was shot. At right is the chair where Waitkus sat when Ruth Steinhagen fired her rifle. At left is a dresser with a martini glass and drink mixes. — Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1949
Rifle
Rifle
The .22 caliber rifle used in the shooting of Eddie Waitkus, which Ruth Steinhagen had in the closet of her hotel room. She also had the paring knife. — Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1949
Trial
Trial
Ruth Steinhagen, second from left, faces the bench at Chicago Felony Court on her arraignment on charges of assault with intent to kill baseball star Eddie Waitkus who is sitting in the wheelchair at the right. Within a day, the 19-year-old woman was indicted by a grand jury, found insane by a jury, and committed to Kankakee State Hospital. — Chicago Tribune, June 30, 194
Eddie Waitkus
Eddie Waitkus
Headstone
Headstone

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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Edward Stephen Waitkus 1
Also known as:
The Natural 1
Full Name:
Edward Waitkus 2
Birth:
04 Sep 1919 1
Cambridge, MA 1
Male 1
Birth:
04 Sep 1919 2
Death:
September 16, 1972 (aged 53) Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 1
Jamaica Plain, MA 1
Cause: esophageal cancer 1
Death:
Sep 1972 2
Burial:
Burial Place: Cambridge Cemetery, Cambridge, MA 1
Edit
Birth:
Mother: Veronica Waitkus 1
Father: Stephen Waitkus 1
Marriage:
Carol Webel 1
17 Nov 1951 1
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Occupation:
Baseball Player 1
Race or Ethnicity:
Lithuanian 1
Employment:
Employer: Baltimore Orioles 1
Position: First Base 1
Place: Baltimore MD 1
Start Date: 1954 1
End Date: 1955 1
Employment:
Employer: Philadelphia Phillies 1
Position: First Base 1
Place: Philadelphia PA 1
Start Date: 1949 1
End Date: 1953 1
Employment:
Employer: Chicago Cubs 1
Position: First Base 1
Place: Chicago IL 1
Start Date: 1946 1
End Date: 1948 1
Employment:
Employer: Chicago Cubs 1
Position: First Base 1
Place: Chicago IL 1
Start Date: 1939 1
End Date: 1943 1
Employment:
Employer: United States Army 1
Position: Sergeant 1
Place: 544th Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment, 4th Engineer Special Brigade 1
Start Date: 1943 1
End Date: 1945 1
Social Security:
Social Security Number: ***-**-7034 2

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Eddie Waitkus

Edward Stephen Waitkus (September 4, 1919 – September 16, 1972) was an 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).

Eddie Waitkus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, grew up in Boston. Eddie 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.

Howie Foxx, Jimmie Dykes, Eddie Waitkus   Bob Turley rubbing Eddie's head for good luck

The Shooting

Just a few years into the start of what seemed a very promising career, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, an obsessed fan, shot Waitkus at Chicago'sEdgewater 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 and would only be in Chicago 11 games in the season, her 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 came to her room, thinking it was a girlfriend of his, she shot him with a .22 calibre 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. Steinhagen's obsession and stalking was covered at length in one of the Fireside Book of Baseballentries.

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

Prior to the 1954 season, the Baltimore Orioles purchased Waitkus from the Philadelphia Phillies for $40,000 ($341,958 in current dollar terms). Released by the Orioles in 1955, he returned to the Phillies for the remainder of the season, retiring at the end of the year.

Waitkus suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his shooting, which ultimately affected both his career and his marriage. He went through some rough times and died at a relatively young age from esophageal cancer. But his final years were satisfying to him, as he became an instructor for Ted Williams' baseball camp, an activity he enjoyed and which he continued almost to the end of his life.

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