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Articles Tagged Eddie Waitkus 

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The makers and promoters of the patronizing "Baseball Boyfriends" app have an appreciation of women and baseball that apparently froze in the 1950s. Donna Reed is dead—long live the female stathead.

Baseball has always had an ambivalent relationship with its female audience, often assuming they had to be catered to or patronized to stoke their interest in the game. For those marketing the game, it often seems as if the idealized image of the distaff fan is not the modern woman, whose adherence to received, stereotypical notions of gender roles erodes by the day, but Ruth Ann Steinhagen, the schizophrenic who, obsessed with Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, lured him into a trap and tried to murder him in 1949. Women, in their view, see ballplayers as sex objects as much or more than they do as athletes involved in a competition that can hold their interest for its own sake. This seems to be the reasoning behind Baseball Boyfriends, a “fantasy” game aimed at women and girls in which participants “pick a new hottie or hang onto you hunk.” [sic]

Steinhagen, 19, had been fixated on Waitkus since seeing him play for the Cubs in 1947, making a shrine of his pictures and clippings and conducting an imaginary relationship with him. She had no interest in the game, she said, until she began to focus on Waitkus. “I just became nuttier and nuttier about the guy,” she later testified, “[I decided] if I can’t have him nobody can. And then I decided I would kill him.”  On June 14, 1949, the Phillies were in Chicago. Steinhagen took a room in the Phillies’ hotel and had a note delivered to the first sacker: “Mr. Waitkus, It is extremely important that I see you as soon as possible. We're not acquainted, but I have something of importance to speak to you about.” After calling and being put off for half an hour, Waitkus appeared at Steinhagen’s room. According to her own testimony:

At the time I had a knife in my skirt pocket and was going to use that on him. When I opened the door he came rushing past me. I expected him to stand there and wait until I asked him to come in and during that time I was going to stab him with the knife. I was kind of mad that he came right in and sat down and didn’t give me a chance to stab him. He looked at me surprised and said, “What do you want to see me about?” I said, “Wait a minute. I have a surprise for you.”

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December 22, 2010 9:00 am

Another Look: Bob Feller

8

Bob Hertzel

The Hall of Fame pitcher served his country and enrinched both baseball and American history.

The first thought that crossed this battered old mind when Bob Feller died last week was to write a baseball tribute to a man who just may have had the greatest fastball of all time. But as the tributes rolled off the presses across the nation, some typed by far more skilled fingers than these and others by people far closer to Feller than I, it became apparent that a retrospective of the man or tribute to him would not do. Instead, Feller’s most lasting influence on our society was not as a strikeout pitcher, but as a patriot who, on December 8, 1941, became the first baseball player to volunteer for active duty, enlisting in the United States Navy one day following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

A stream of more than 4,500 professional players followed him from the baseball uniform into military garb, as this five-year war rewrote both American and baseball history.

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August 11, 2009 1:20 pm

You Could Look It Up: On Droughts and Drafts

7

Steven Goldman

That brief moment when shortstops put first basemen in their shadows.

On Monday, Kevin Goldstein wrote about a talent drought as far as the lack of prospective left-side infielders coming into the minor leagues in recent years. While Kevin's article suggests that this may be the result of systemic changes in the way young players are treated before turning pro, it is also true that such fluctuations in the player supply have happened before. In the 1980s it was catchers; for a brief period it seemed as if the future of backstopping was going to look like Ron Karkovice and not Joe Mauer, so few were the attractive prospects at the position.

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