A real life inspiration behind Bernard Malamud’s novel (and total meh movie), The Natural, has passed away at the age of 83. You might not be too familiar with Ruth Ann Steinhagen, but she’s the lady behind the minor character of Harriet Bird, who plays a major part in the story of Roy Hobbes:
After the 1948 season, Waitkus was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies — a fateful turn. “When he went to the Phillies, that’s when she decided to kill him,” Theodore said in an interview.
Steinhagen had her chance the next season, when the Phillies came to Chicago to play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. She checked into a room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel where he was staying and invited him to her room.
“We’re not acquainted, but I have something of importance to speak to you about,” she wrote in a note to him after a game at Wrigley on June 14, 1949.
It worked. Waitkus arrived at her room. After he sat down, 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. Theodore wrote that she then knelt by his side and held his hand on her lap. She told a psychiatrist afterward about how she had dreamed of killing him and found it strange that she was now “holding him in my arms.”
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