The Sports Archives History Lesson – Baseball’s “The Natural”

We all remember the movie “The Natural” with Robert Redford portraying Roy Hobbs, the fictional baseball player who played for a team called the New York Knights.

Did you ever wonder if there was any truth in the novel by Bernard Malamud? The story was loosely based on the life of Eddie Waitkus who played for the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies. He was known at the time as a member of the Phillies’ “Whiz Kids”.

Roy Hobbs in “The Natural” was shot by an obsessed fan but returns to play and lead the Knights. Eddie Waitkus was also shot by an obsessed fan, Ruth Steinhagen, who is quoted as saying “For two years you have been bothering me and now you are going to die.”

Waitkus did not die and was named Comeback Player of the Year helping to lead the Phillies to the pennant.  Waitkus, did however, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the shooting, which impacted his career and his marriage.

Eddie Waitkus

Ruth Steinhagen

Ruth Steinhagen - woman who shot Eddie Waitkus

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4 Responses to The Sports Archives History Lesson – Baseball’s “The Natural”

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