|Ruth Steinhagen, right, plays ball in 1949 at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.|
The Washington Post reports:
Ruth Ann Steinhagen, the Chicago woman whose near-fatal 1949 shooting of former Chicago Cubs first baseman Eddie Waitkus inspired the book and the movie “The Natural,” died with the same anonymity with which she lived for more than half a century.
The shooting, thought to be one of the first-ever stalker crimes, nearly killed Waitkus and temporarily sidetracked his career. The incident also helped draw attention to “baseball Annies” — young, hero-worshiping female groupies who would pursue major league ballplayers, often relentlessly.
Miss Steinhagen underwent nearly three years of psychiatric treatment, then disappeared into near obscurity and never spoke publicly about the Waitkus incident again. She spent much of her final 42 years living in a modest house on Chicago’s Northwest Side with her parents and sister.
She died Dec. 29 at a Chicago hospital of a subdural hematoma caused by an accidental fall in her home, a Cook County Medical Examiner spokeswoman said. She was 83.