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Inspiration for ‘The Natural’ dies at 83

posted 3/19/2013 9:14:48 PM |
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tagged: sports, movie, straddle, baseball

I thought this was pretty interesting. I watched this movie years ago.

CHICAGO — She inspired a novel and a movie starring Robert Redford when, in 1949, she lured a major-league ballplayer into a hotel room and shot him, nearly killing him.

After the headlines faded, Ruth Ann Steinhagen disappeared into obscurity, living a quiet life unnoticed in Chicago until now, more than a half-century later, when news broke that she had died late last year. The Cook County medical examiner’s office has confirmed that Steinhagen passed away of natural causes on Dec. 29, at the age of 83. Her identity was a surprise even to the morgue employees who knew about the 1984 movie The Natural, in which she was portrayed by Barbara Hershey.

“She chose to live in the shadows, and she did a good job of it,” John Theodore, an author who wrote a 2002 nonfiction book about the crime, wrote in an email yesterday.

The story began with what appeared to be just another young woman’s crush on Eddie Waitkus, the Chicago Cubs’ first baseman. But it intensified, and she turned her bedroom into a shrine to him.

After the 1948 season, Waitkus was traded to Philadelphia. “When he went to the Phillies, that’s when she decided to kill him,” Theodore said.

The next season, when the Phillies came to Chicago to play the Cubs, Steinhagen checked into the hotel where he was staying and invited him to her room.

When Waitkus arrived, Steinhagen walked to a closet, said, “I have a surprise for you,” then turned with the rifle she had hidden there and shot him in the chest. He survived.

A judge determined the 19-year-old baseball groupie was insane and committed her to a mental hospital. She was released three years later.

Details about the rest of her life are sketchy. She lived with her sister in a house just a few miles from the hotel where she shot Waitkus.

Waitkus did not press charges. He died in 1972.

The story and photo link of her

The Columbus Dispatch

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Mar 19 @ 11:07PM  
I read this the other day.... some people were crazy/obsessed back then too.

And we only thought it happened "these days"

I've never actually seen the movie "The Natural" .... but might go back and watch it soon.

Mar 20 @ 2:12AM  
I saw the movie once but I don't get what her story really had to do with it.

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Inspiration for ‘The Natural’ dies at 83