Feb 14, 2013
The Most Tragic Baseball Love Story
This is the tragic story of Roy Hobbs......well at least it could have been; it sounds like something that would come out of a movie, especially for this time period.
Eddie Waitkus was a decorated World War II veteran who had become an all-star first baseman with the Chicago Cubs by 1948. After that season, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. It seems there was an obsessed fan that was left behind in Chicago. She had built a shrine to him and wanted to see him everyday; his trade to Philadelphia enhanced the obsession.
When the Phillies came to Chicago, she took an alias of a friend of his and invited him to a hotel room. When he entered the room, she shot him with intent to kill him. Luckily, the bullet missed his head, and he was able to survive after many operations trying to remove it.
He did come back to the Phillies as the first baseman for the Whiz Kids in 1950 and won NL Comeback Player of the Year. He continually suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, however, and his baseball career ended by 1955. He did have a fairly remarkable 1952, where he walked 64 times and struck out 23 times with a 108 OPS+.
Love can be consuming and sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes there is tragedy, but there are always ways to be picked up in the end. Eddie Waitkus survived his event and rebuilt everything despite his personal tragedy.