Few will remember her name, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, yet many will remember her criminal act of 1949.
Steinhagen was only 19 and star-struck when she lured Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus to her hotel room and shot him. Although Waitkus survived and played six more seasons, the incident at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago proved a sensational news story and perhaps was the first of the celebrity stalking crimes brought to national attention.
The New York Times obit today described in full, the crime, the trial and the outcome (Steinhagen was declared insane). Bernard Malamud began his book, “The Natural,” with a similar incident believed taken from the Waitkus shooting.
Steinhagen led the rest of her life in obscurity, and reports of her death on Dec. 29 of last year, were brought to light recently by the Chicago Tribune. She died from a subdural hematoma that resulted from a fall, according to an autopsy.