See that guy in the middle, sitting down and looking like he'd rather be anywhere else? That's Eddie Waitkus, a first baseman for the Phillies. See the young lady on the left side of the frame? That's Ruth Steinhagen, the woman who on June 14, 1949, tried to kill Eddie Waitkus.
If you've ever seen or read The Natural, you are at least partly familiar with Steinhagen's story. She was a mentally ill 19-year-old who shot Waitkus in a hotel room, an incident that inspired Bernard Malamud to write a similar tragedy into Roy Hobbs's life. But the real story is laced with the kind of darkly comic detail that one usually finds in a Coen brothers movie. The picture above was taken at the June 30 hearing at which Steinhagen was ultimately judged insane. The scene played out as farce. From Mark Kram Jr.'s story, published earlier today over on The Stacks:
"I will always love him," said Ruth, who added that she was sorry for the suffering she had caused him. "I feel the same as ever [toward Eddie], even more so." The only feeling Eddie had was anger; he told reporters he would kick her if he could. "I have no compassion for her," he said. "Furthermore, she ruined a sixty-dollar suit by shooting me through the coat." When the two were in place at the counsel table, separated by no more than five feet, Ruth gave him a sidelong look, and then averted her eyes. A photographer called to him, "Point your finger at her, Eddie!" But Eddie replied sharply, "No!" Ruth chewed vigorously on a piece of gum.
Read the whole thing below (and check out the Kindle Single from which it was excerpted). You won't regret it.