Pretty much every baseball fan ever has seen Robert Redford play Roy Hobbs in The Natural. But how many fans know the real life story of the crazy stalker lady who attempted to murder a member of the 1949 Phillies who inspired the movie?
Her name was Ruth Ann Steinhagen and she died recently at the age of 83, according to an NPR blog post that tells the tale.
[Eddie Waitkus Baseball Reference]
The Associated Press recounts the story of Eddie Waitkus and Steinhagen:
"The story began with what appeared to be just another young woman's
crush on Eddie Waitkus, the Chicago Cubs' handsome first baseman. So
complete was this crush that the teenager set a place for Waitkus, whom
she'd never met, at the family dinner table. She turned her bedroom into
a shrine to him, and put his photo under her pillow.
the 1948 season, Waitkus was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies — a
fateful turn. "When he went to the Phillies, that's when she decided to
kill him," [author John] Theodore said in an interview.
had her chance the next season, when the Phillies came to Chicago to
play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. She checked into a room at the Edgewater
Beach Hotel where he was staying and invited him to her room.
So she sent him the tried-and-true "you don't know me but I think we should meet in my hotel room" note and ended up shooting Waitkus in the chest after he showed. He survived and played a few more seasons in the bigs. She was found to be insane and spent years in a state hospital getting therapy.
The real life events of Waitkus and his stalker differ a bit from those of Roy Hobbs in the movie, but the moral of the story is always be weary of ladies from Chicago who want to woo you to their hotel room. Also, your shrine to a baseball player really is creepy.
Much like the Cubs, Steinhagen disappeared into obscurity.
>>Stalker Who Inspired 'The Natural' Dies; Lived Real Life In Obscurity [NPR]
>>Obsessed Fan Who Shot Player, Inspired Movie, Dies [AP]