Archive for the ‘Hitters’ Category

After going two weeks without a win, the Cardinals broke their skid by scoring a week’s worth of runs in one game.

Ninety years ago, on July 6, 1929, the Cardinals set a franchise record for most runs in a game when they beat the Phillies, 28-6, in the second game of a doubleheader at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.

The win was the Cardinals’ first since June 22, 1929, and snapped an 11-game losing streak.

Since then, no National League team has scored as many runs in a game as the Cardinals did against the Phillies. Before then, the National League record for most runs scored by one team in a game was set on June 29, 1897, when the Chicago Colts beat the Louisville Colonels, 36-7, according to MLB.com. The American League record was established on Aug. 22, 2007, when the Rangers beat the Orioles, 30-3, in the first game of a doubleheader at Baltimore. Boxscore

10 in the 1st

The Cardinals-Phillies doubleheader was played on a steamy Saturday afternoon. “Swarms of Japanese beetles added to the discomfort of players and spectators,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

In the first game, Cardinals cleanup batter Jim Bottomley hit a pair of two-run home runs, but the Phillies won, 10-6. It was the 11th consecutive loss for the defending National League champions and it gave them a 36-36 record. Boxscore

The second game matched starting pitchers Fred Frankhouse of the Cardinals against Phillies ace Claude Willoughby.

A right-hander from the farm town of Buffalo, Kansas, Willoughby would finish with 15 wins for the 1929 Phillies, but he struggled against the Cardinals.

Willoughby faced six batters, yielding three singles and walking three, and was lifted without recording an out.

Elmer Miller, a rookie left-hander who later in the season was converted into a right fielder, relieved, faced two batters and walked both.

Phillies manager Burt Shotton, a former Cardinals outfielder and coach, pulled Miller and replaced him with Luther Roy, who started two days earlier against the Dodgers. Roy gave up singles to the first two Cardinals batters he faced.

Rookie second baseman Carey Selph made the first out of the inning, on a sacrifice bunt, after the first 10 Cardinals batters reached base.

The Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning on six singles and five walks.

Given a 10-0 lead, Frankhouse, pitching with a sore thumb, “didn’t have to bear down” and “merely lobbed the ball over the plate,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals scored a run in the second and two in the fourth, and led, 13-4.

Pour it on

In the fifth, the Cardinals produced their second 10-run inning of the game. Bottomley got the big hit, a grand slam against the Phillies’ fourth pitcher, June Greene. Bottomley’s home run cleared the right-field wall and carried into Broad Street, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The Cardinals led, 23-4, after five innings. They scored again in one more inning, getting five runs in the eighth. The big blow was Chick Hafey’s grand slam into the left-field seats against Greene.

The grand slams by Bottomley and Hafey were the only Cardinals home runs in the game.

The Cardinals generated 28 hits and also received nine walks and had one batter hit by a pitch.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Cardinals also hit two line drives off the shins of Greene, but the balls caromed to infielders, who made the outs.

Every Cardinals player who made a plate appearance got a hit.

Leadoff batter Taylor Douthit was 5-for-6 with two walks. He scored four runs and drove in two. Bottomley was 4-for-5 with two walks. He scored four runs and drove in seven. For the doubleheader, Bottomley was 7-for-10 with 11 RBI and six runs scored. Hafey was 5-for-7 in Game 2 with five RBI and four runs scored.

Frankhouse was as effective a hitter as he was a pitcher. He was 4-for-7 with four RBI and, though he pitched a complete game and got a win, he yielded 17 hits and walked three.

Most of the damage was done against Roy (13 hits, nine runs in 4.1 innings) and Greene (12 hits, 11 runs in 4.2 innings). Boxscore

Willoughby, the losing pitcher, played seven seasons in the big leagues and continued to have trouble versus the Cardinals. His career record against the Cardinals: 2-12 with a 8.62 ERA.

After their record-setting performance, the Cardinals lost five of their next seven, falling to 39-41. Billy Southworth, in his first stint as Cardinals manager, was fired in late July and replaced by Bill McKechnie, who’d managed the Cardinals to the National League pennant in 1928.

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Credible journalists adhere to a self-imposed policy of no cheering in the press box. John Denny wanted his Cardinals teammates to do the same in the dugout.

Forty years ago, on July 1, 1979, Denny got into an animated argument with teammate Roger Freed, whose rah-rah spirit annoyed the Cardinals’ pitcher.

Manager Ken Boyer intervened before Freed and Denny exchanged punches.

After the game, Freed was demoted to the minor leagues, though the Cardinals said the decision wasn’t related to the flareup with Denny.

Pipe down

Denny and Dick Ruthven of the Phillies were the starting pitchers in the first game of the Sunday doubleheader at St. Louis.

In the first inning, Denny walked three batters, loading the bases, before yielding a three-run triple to Gary Maddox and a RBI-single to Manny Trillo.

After getting the third out of the inning, Denny, who hadn’t won since May 15, was in a foul mood as he headed off the field.

In the dugout, Freed, who wasn’t in the lineup, was “trying to rally the troops,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, and loudly urged his teammates to fight back from the 4-0 deficit.

When Denny got to the dugout, the clatter caused by the fiery Freed got on his nerves.

“John told everybody on the bench to shut up,” Freed said.

Freed told Denny, “I’ll say what I want to say.”

Denny and Freed got into a heated discussion and they moved toward the bat rack.

“Boyer and a couple of players stepped in to prevent push from becoming shove,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Said Boyer: “Roger is a pretty strong man. I didn’t want him breaking Denny’s jaw.”

Though Boyer didn’t take sides in the dispute, he noted Denny had a reputation for being moody and “guys who have been around long enough should know to lay off him.”

Denny declined comment to the Post-Dispatch.

Moving on

While Denny held the Phillies scoreless over the next five innings, the Cardinals came back against Ruthven, getting three runs in the third and one in the sixth to tie the score at 4-4.

In the seventh, the Phillies scored twice against Denny, taking a 6-4 lead, but the Cardinals responded with three runs off Warren Brusstar in the bottom half of the inning to go ahead, 7-6.

The Cardinals prevailed, 13-7, with the win going to reliever Mark Littell. Boxscore

After the game, the Cardinals demoted Freed to Class AAA Springfield to open a roster spot for Game 2 starting pitcher Roy Thomas, who had been in the minors. Thomas was throwing in the bullpen when Boyer informed Freed he was being optioned.

“Roger sat on the bench, staring into space in deep shock,” according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Freed told the Post-Dispatch, “I don’t deserve it … It hurts.”

A right-handed batter who primarily was used as a pinch-hitter, Freed returned to the Cardinals on July 11, got sent back to Springfield two weeks later and was recalled again when big-league rosters expanded in September.

In 1977, his first season with the Cardinals after stints with the Orioles, Phillies, Reds and Expos, Freed hit .398 (33-for-83), including .421 versus left-handers. He dropped to .239 in 1978, but hit .379 (11-for-29) as a pinch-hitter.

Freed got 31 at-bats with the 1979 Cardinals, hit .258, including a walkoff grand slam, and was released on April 2, 1980.

After finishing the 1979 season with an 8-11 record and 4.85 ERA, Denny was traded by the Cardinals to the Indians for outfielder Bobby Bonds.

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Called up from the minors to substitute for an injured Ted Simmons at catcher, Cardinals rookie Terry Kennedy contributed a bloop and a blast in a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies.

Forty years ago, on July 1, 1979, Kennedy hit his first major-league home run, a grand slam, in Game 1 of the Sunday doubleheader at St. Louis and delivered a walkoff RBI-single on a broken-bat pop fly in Game 2.

Though Kennedy impressed the Cardinals, they eventually decided to trade both he and Simmons, opting instead for Darrell Porter as their catcher.

Stepping up

Kennedy’s father, Bob Kennedy, was a big-league player and manager who worked for the Cardinals from 1969-76 as a scout and front-office executive.

In 1977, when Bob Kennedy became general manager of the Cubs, the Cardinals chose Terry Kennedy, a Florida State standout, in the first round of the amateur draft.

A left-handed batter, Kennedy made his major-league debut with the Cardinals in 1978, appearing in 10 September games, after hitting .309 with 100 RBI in the minors.

The 1979 Cardinals began the season with Simmons and Steve Swisher as their catchers and returned Kennedy to the minors. Kennedy, hitting .287 with 50 RBI for Class AAA Springfield, was called back by the Cardinals after Simmons broke his left wrist on June 24, 1979. Simmons was injured when struck by a foul ball off the bat of Mets pitcher Andy Hassler, who was attempting to bunt.

Simmons said he would work with Kennedy “every day, helping him any way I can,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Kennedy, who referred to Simmons as “the best hitter in the National League,” said he was “a little bit nervous” about substituting for the Cardinals’ catcher, but added, “I can do it.”

Mistake pitch

Kennedy’s breakout game occurred in the opener of the doubleheader versus the Phillies.

In the eighth inning, with the bases loaded and the Cardinals ahead, 9-7, Kennedy batted against left-hander Tug McGraw. With the count 0-and-2, McGraw hung a screwball and Kennedy hit it over the right-field wall.

“My thinking was ass-backwards out there for some reason,” McGraw said to Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. “I’ve never, ever thrown an 0-2 waste pitch screwball to a left-handed hitter, but I did today and don’t ask me why. The pitch was against all logic and I hung it. Maybe it was in the back of my mind that he’s a rookie and would be vulnerable to a screwball.”

Kennedy’s home run propelled the Cardinals to a 13-7 victory. He was 2-for-4 with a walk and threw out Bake McBride attempting to steal third. Boxscore

“He has to work on his defensive skills, but he’s going to create some thunder,” Cardinals manager Ken Boyer told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dumb luck

Swisher was the Cardinals’ catcher in Game 2, but Kennedy batted for him in the ninth inning with runners on first and second, two outs and the score tied at 1-1.

The first delivery from former Cardinal Ron Reed was “a killer pitch, a fastball that could have started a Midwest heat wave,” according to Jayson Stark of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Kennedy swung and “his bat shattered with a splintering sound so loud they probably heard it in Kansas City,” the Inquirer reported.

“I got jammed,” Kennedy said to the Post-Dispatch.

The ball floated softly into shallow center.

“I was so embarrassed,” Kennedy said. “I started running to first base with my head down.”

Shortstop Larry Bowa and second baseman Manny Trillo converged on the ball.

“We both started to call it and we both looked at each other,” Bowa said, “and we both took a step away.”

With Bowa and Trillo standing like statues, the ball plopped onto the ground for a single and Keith Hernandez dashed home from second with the winning run. Boxscore

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Kennedy. “It was just dumb luck. The ball should have been caught.”

Reliever Mark Littell was the winning pitcher in each game of the doubleheader and got his first major-league RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the opener.

“When I was a kid, I read that book, ‘Baseball is A Funny Game,’ by Joe Garagiola,” Littell said. “Now I know what he meant.”

Multiple all-star

Kennedy hit .284 in 33 games for the Cardinals in 1979 and .254 in 84 games for them in 1980. Simmons, who returned to the lineup on July 24, hit 26 home runs for the 1979 Cardinals. He had 21 homers and 98 RBI for the Cardinals in 1980.

After the 1980 season, the Cardinals, who turned over their baseball operations to Whitey Herzog, traded Simmons to the Brewers and Kennedy to the Padres. Porter, a free agent, was signed to be their catcher and was backed by Gene Tenace, one of the players acquired for Kennedy.

In 14 seasons with the Cardinals (1978-80), Padres (1981-86), Orioles (1987-88) and Giants (1989-91), Kennedy was a four-time all-star who produced 1,313 career hits and played in two World Series.

In addition to his first big-league home run, Kennedy hit one other grand slam. It occurred on May 15, 1990, for the Giants against the Mets’ Ron Darling.

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After failing to qualify for the postseason in 2007 and 2008, the Cardinals were determined to show they’d do whatever it took to give themselves a chance to return to the playoffs in 2009.

Ten years ago, on June 27, 2009, the Cardinals acquired third baseman Mark DeRosa from the Indians for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named, pitcher Jess Todd.

The deal helped extinguish skepticism about management’s willingness to make moves to contend and inspired an array of other acquisitions. After getting DeRosa, the 2009 Cardinals traded for left fielder Matt Holliday from the Athletics and infielder Julio Lugo from the Red Sox, and signed pitcher John Smoltz.

Those moves sparked the 2009 Cardinals to a National League Central Division championship.

Wanted: Bat man

The Cardinals opened the 2009 season with a pair of utility players, Brian Barden and Joe Thurston, platooning at third base in place of Troy Glaus, who was projected to be sidelined for several months after having right shoulder surgery.

Without Glaus, who had 27 home runs and 99 RBI for the 2008 Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa wanted a proven run producer to join Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick in the heart of the batting order.

The Indians, who lost 16 of their first 25 games in 2009 and didn’t figure to contend, were shopping DeRosa, who was eligible to become a free agent after the season. In late May 2009, the Cardinals and Indians discussed a deal for DeRosa, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, but couldn’t agree on terms.

DeRosa, who could play multiple infield and outfield positions, began his major-league career with the Braves in 1998. He reached his peak in a three-year stretch when he hit .296 with 74 RBI for the 2006 Rangers, .293 with 72 RBI for the 2007 Cubs and .285 with 87 RBI and 103 runs scored for the 2008 Cubs.

The Cardinals and Indians resumed trade talks on June 19 and set a deadline of June 28 to get a deal done.

Future is now

DeRosa, 34, cost the Cardinals two top pitching prospects.

Perez was chosen by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft from the University of Miami and was projected as a closer. Perez was 3-3 with seven saves and 3.46 ERA in his rookie season with the Cardinals in 2008 and 1-1 with one save and a 4.18 ERA in 2009.

“His fastball is 93 to 95 mph and he has touched 98,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said to the Akron Beacon Journal. “He also has a swing-and-miss slider.”

Todd was the Cardinals’ second-round selection in the 2007 amateur draft from the University of Arkansas and was the franchise’s minor-league pitcher of the year in 2008. He made his major-league debut with the Cardinals on June 5, 2009, pitching 1.2 innings of relief versus the Rockies.

The Cardinals determined they could part with Perez and Todd because they were confident in their closer, Ryan Franklin, and were grooming Jason Motte to be his eventual successor. According to the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals coaches told general manager John Mozeliak they preferred to have Motte over Perez.

“Sometimes you do have to make short-term decisions,” Mozeliak said. “Sometimes you have to take off the visionary hat. I think that’s how you have to look at the deal.”

Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote, “Acquiring DeRosa was the correct thing to do.”

Puzzle part

The Cardinals got a bad break when DeRosa injured his left wrist in his third game with them on June 30. He didn’t return to the lineup until July 18.

Hitless in his first nine at-bats before the injury, DeRosa was hitless in his first six at-bats after returning from the disabled list, making him 0-for-15 as a Cardinal, before he snapped the skid with a single against the Astros on July 20.

“I just want to be a piece of the puzzle,” DeRosa said to the Associated Press.

Mozeliak did the rest, swapping outfielder Chris Duncan for Lugo on July 22, trading three prospects for Holliday on July 24 and signing Smoltz on Aug. 19 after the Red Sox released him.

The Cardinals won 20 of 26 games in August on their way to clinching the division title.

DeRosa hit .228 with 10 home runs and 28 RBI in 68 games with the Cardinals. He made 58 starts at third base, two starts in the outfield and one at first base. He also played two games at second base as a substitute.

In the 2009 National League Division Series versus the Dodgers, DeRosa hit .385, but the Cardinals didn’t advance.

Short stay

DeRosa, saying he wanted to test the open market, was granted free agency after the 2009 season. The Cardinals were interested in re-signing him, although Mozeliak said rookie David Freese should get first shot at earning the 2010 Opening Day third base job.

DeRosa “still intrigues the Cardinals, but may fit more neatly as an alternative in left field than at third base,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

Holliday also became a free agent after the 2009 season and the Cardinals saw DeRosa as a Plan B in left field if Holliday didn’t return.

Unwilling to wait for the Cardinals to make up their minds, DeRosa signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Giants in December 2009. After that, the Cardinals reached a deal with Holliday.

DeRosa played four more seasons with three teams _ Giants, Nationals and Blue Jays. In 16 years in the big leagues, he batted .268. He was at his best in the postseason, batting .358 with 19 hits in 22 playoff games for the Braves, Cubs and Cardinals.

Perez had the most success of the two pitchers acquired by the Indians in the DeRosa deal.

In five seasons with the Indians, Perez had 124 saves and a 3.33 ERA. He was an American League all-star in 2011 and 2012. He spent his last season with the 2014 Dodgers.

Todd pitched in 24 games over two seasons for the Indians and was 0-1 with a 7.43 ERA. The Cardinals reacquired him in 2011 and he pitched for their Memphis farm club for two seasons.

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Dave Marshall got a big hit against the Cardinals and took some painful hits from them as well.

Marshall died June 6, 2019, at 76. He played in the major leagues from 1967-73 as an outfielder for the Giants, Mets and Padres.

A left-handed batter, Marshall hit his first big-league home run against the Cardinals’ Ray Washburn after the Giants benefitted from a controversy involving Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

A year later, Marshall took his lumps, getting hit by pitches from the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson three times, including twice in one game.

Pro potential

Marshall was a standout football player at Lakewood High School in California and at Long Beach City College. After a coach suggested he try baseball, Marshall excelled and impressed a scout for the Angels, who signed him to a professional contract at age 20 in 1963.

On April 6, 1966, after three seasons in their minor-league system, the Angels traded Marshall to the Giants for infielder Hector Torres. Marshall continued to progress in the minors and hit .294 for Phoenix in 1967.

Marshall made his major-league debut on Sept. 7, 1967, as a pinch-runner. After hitting .444 in 20 exhibition games at training camp the following spring, Marshall made the Giants’ 1968 Opening Day roster.

“He possesses a classic swing at the plate and throws with strength and accuracy,” The Sporting News reported.

The Giants began the 1968 season with an outfield of Mays in center, Jim Ray Hart in left and Jesus Alou in right. Hart and Alou batted right-handed, so manager Herman Franks used Marshall to fill in for them against some right-handers.

Odd start

On May 5, 1968, Marshall got the start in left field and batted sixth against the Cardinals at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

After the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the first inning against Mike McCormick, Mike Shannon hit a drive to deep left.

“I thought it was going to land 15 rows up in the stands, but the wind pulled the ball back,” Marshall said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Marshall caught the ball near the fence for the second out.

Lou Brock, the runner on third, should have scored, but he “started for the plate, then went back to third, feeling he had broken from the bag before the ball was caught,” the San Francisco Examiner reported.

Marshall’s throw caught Brock in a rundown and he was tagged for the third out. What started out looking like a grand slam turned into a double play.

New rules

The unusual play foreshadowed more bizarreness.

In the fourth, Mays led off with a single. As the next batter, McCovey, swung and missed a third strike, Mays attempted to steal second. Catcher Tim McCarver made a throw, but the ball struck McCovey’s bat and Mays reached second.

In taking a mighty cut at Washburn’s pitch, McCovey’s bat “circled over his head and he finished up with it across the plate,” the San Francisco Examiner reported.

McCarver told the Post-Dispatch he threw the ball in the proper direction, but McCovey’s bat got in the way.

Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said Mays “would have been out easily” if McCarver had made an unimpeded throw.

Plate umpire Bill Jackowski called interference on McCovey and ruled Mays out. After Franks objected, the four umpires met and reversed Jackowski’s call, allowing Mays to take second base.

According to the Post-Dispatch, “Schoendienst said the umpires admitted there had been interference, but they said also that the interference was not intentional.”

Schoendienst called the decision “a crime” and pointed out “the rule doesn’t say a thing about the interference having to be intentional.”

Said McCarver: “The umpires butchered the call and we’re expected to swallow it.”

First homer

When play resumed, Mays advanced to third on Jim Davenport’s groundout.

If the umpire’s interference call had stood, Davenport’s out would have been the third of the inning. Instead, it was the second, and Marhsall got to bat.

Washburn threw a low slider and Marshall drove it to right.

“He tried to get the pitch inside, I think, but it was out away,” Marshall told the Oakland Tribune.

The ball carried over the right-field fence for Marshall’s first major-league home run, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

“I got it up in the wind and I watched it all the way over the fence,” Marshall said to the San Francisco Examiner. “It sure felt good to make contact.”

An inning later, Marshall made a diving catch of Brock’s sinking liner.

The Giants won, 8-4, giving Washburn his first loss of the season and leaving him dispirited about dusty, wind-blown Candlestick Park. Boxscore

“It’s all right with me if I don’t see the place again,” Washburn said.

Four months later, Washburn pitched a no-hitter against the Giants at Candlestick Park.


On July 25, 1969, Marshall was involved in another Giants-Cardinals classic. Bob Gibson pitched 13 innings and scored the winning run in a 2-1 victory at St. Louis.

Marshall scored the lone Giants run. He led off the game with a single, advanced to third on Ron Hunt’s hit and scored on a groundout.

In the sixth, Gibson hit Marshall with a pitch and Marshall was thrown out attempting to steal second.

In the ninth, Marshall was hit again by a Gibson pitch. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, but was stranded.

Marshall suffered “painful bruises on his right hand and right shoulder” from being hit by Gibson’s pitches, the Oakland Tribune reported. Boxscore

A month later, on Aug. 10, 1969, Gibson hit Marshall with a pitch in the third inning at Candlestick Park in a game won by the Cardinals, 7-4. Boxscore

Marshall batted .179 (7-for-39) in his career versus Gibson and .204 against the Cardinals. Overall, he batted .246 in the majors, with 16 home runs and was hit by pitches 10 times.


In 1984, Marshall began working security for the operators of the Queen Mary ocean liner, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. He married his wife, Carol, aboard the Queen Mary, the newspaper reported. In 2002, Marshall took a job with the Long Beach Convention Center.

On June 4, 2019, Carol, 82, who had multiple sclerosis, died with her husband at her side. He died two days later.

“I think he may have died of a broken heart,” Charlie Beirne, general manager of the Long Beach Convention Center, said to the Press-Telegram.

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Eddie Waitkus fought in combat in World War II, returned home to resume a major-league baseball career and found himself in another life-and-death struggle against a determined foe.

Seventy years ago, on June 14, 1949, Waitkus, 29, was shot in the chest by a deranged admirer, 19-year-old Ruth Steinhagen, in a Chicago hotel room.

Waitkus, a Phillies first baseman, was seriously wounded, underwent six operations, survived and came back the following season to be a key contributor for the National League champions.

His story inspired the Bernard Malamud novel, “The Natural,” in 1952, a fictionalized account featuring a protagonist, Roy Hobbs, who is shot by a mysterious woman. The 1984 film, “The Natural,” starring Robert Redford as Hobbs, was based on the novel, but, unlike the book, featured a happy ending.

Real life wasn’t so kind to Waitkus.

Athlete and soldier

Eddie Waitkus was the son of Lithuanian immigrants who settled in Cambridge, Mass. He was an honor student and standout athlete who excelled at baseball.

Waitkus was mentored by Jack Burns, a Cambridge native who played first base in the American League for the Browns and Tigers. Like Burns, Waitkus was a left-handed batter who developed into a consistent hitter and sure-handed fielder.

In 1938, while playing semipro baseball, Waitkus was named to an all-America team, prompting a Boston sports writer to hail him as a “natural,” according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

The Cubs signed Waitkus after giving him a tryout in September 1938. After two years in the minors, Waitkus, 21, made his big-league debut as the starting first baseman for the Cubs on Opening Day in 1941.

After returning to the minors in 1942, Waitkus began a three-year hitch in the Army in 1943. An amphibious engineer, he experienced extensive combat in the Pacific, including New Guinea and the Philippines, narrowly escaped being taken prisoner by the Japanese and earned four bronze stars.

Waitkus returned to the Cubs after the war and was their first baseman from 1946-48. He hit .304 in 1946, .292 in 1947 and .295 in 1948, when he was selected to the National League all-star team.

Dangerous obsession

Ruth Ann Steinhagen was born in Cicero, Ill., and grew up in a Chicago household with her parents, who were German immigrants, and a sister. As a teen-ager, Steinhagen became infatuated with actor Alan Ladd and Cubs outfielder Peanuts Lowrey. In 1947, when she was 17, she turned her attention to Waitkus.

Steinhagen built a shrine to Waitkus in her bedroom, talked about him constantly and regularly bought tickets for seats near first base at Wrigley Field. “I used to go to all the ballgames just to watch him,” Steinhagen informed a court-appointed psychiatrist.

Steinhagen would wait outside the Cubs’ clubhouse after games to get a glimpse of Waitkus, but they never met and never had any contact.

“She has been crazy about Eddie for about three years and she had hundreds of pictures of him,” Steinhagen’s mother, Edith, told the Associated Press. “She used to spread them out on the table and even on the floor and look at them for hours.”

Steinhagen told International News Service, “I liked Eddie because he was clean-cut and I liked the way he played baseball. I was in love with him.”

Steinhagen’s mother urged her “to seek the help of a psychiatrist,” the Chicago Tribune reported. Steinhagen consulted with two, but her behavior didn’t change. Her father, Walter, a die setter, “tried to persuade her to forget Waitkus,” according to the Tribune, but his suggestions upset her.

Steinhagen received a jolt on Dec. 14, 1948, when the Cubs traded Waitkus to the Phillies. A month later, in January 1949, she left her parents’ house, moved into an apartment, which she filled with mementoes of Waitkus, and worked as a typist for an insurance company.

In early May 1949, Steinhagen said, she decided to kill Waitkus. She told her mother and a friend of her intentions, according to United Press, but they didn’t believe her.

“I guess I got the idea to shoot him because he reminded me of my father,” Steinhagen said.

According to the New York Times, Steinhagen also said, “I was building in my mind the idea of killing him. As time went on, I just became nuttier and nuttier about the guy. I knew I would never get to know him in a normal way, so I kept thinking, I will never get him, and if I can’t have him, nobody else can. Then I decided I would kill him.”

Intent to kill

Aware the Phillies were headed to Chicago to play the Cubs, Steinhagen went to a pawn shop and paid $21 for a .22-caliber rifle. She told the pawnbroker she needed the gun for protection. He showed her how to disassemble the weapon and put it back together.

Steinhagen reserved a room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, where the Phillies stayed, and registered as Ruth Anne Burns of Boston.

Steinhagen told police she got the rifle into the hotel by separating it into two parts. “I wrapped the parts in newspaper and put them in my traveling bag and brought it into the hotel,” she said.

She also brought with her a paring knife featuring a 3.5-inch blade.

“I was planning to stab him,” Steinhagen said. She intended to use the gun to commit suicide.

In her hotel room, Steinhagen reassembled the rifle, loaded it with one cartridge and placed it in a closet.

Fateful day

On June 14, 1949, the Phillies played the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Waitkus had a single, a walk and scored twice in the Phillies’ 9-2 triumph. The Tuesday afternoon game drew 7,815 spectators, including Steinhagen. Boxscore

After the game, she went to the hotel room. Waitkus went to a restaurant to have dinner with friends. While he was out, Steinhagen tipped a bellhop $5 and asked him to deliver a note to Waitkus.

Her plotting completed, Steinhagen ordered two whiskey sours and a daiquiri from room service, settled in with her drinks and waited for Waitkus to respond.

When Waitkus returned to the hotel, the bellhop informed him a woman left a note for him at the front desk. The unsigned note asked Waitkus to come to Room 1297-A. “It’s extremely important that I see you as soon as possible … I have something of importance to speak to you about,” Steinhagen wrote. “I think it would be to your advantage to let me explain it to you.”

“It was cleverly written to attract interest without arousing suspicion,” Dr. O. Spurgeon English, head of the Department of Psychiatry at Temple University, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Waitkus asked a desk clerk to tell him who was registered in Room 1297-A. When informed it was Ruth Anne Burns of Boston, Waitkus wondered whether it might be a relative of his hometown baseball mentor, Jack Burns.

Waitkus joined teammates Bill Nicholson and Russ Meyer for a drink at the hotel bar, showed them the note and decided to act “out of curiosity.”

Violent meeting

Waitkus called Steinhagen’s room at about 11 p.m.

“I had started to fall asleep when the phone rang and a voice said, ‘What’s this all about?’ It was Eddie,” Steinhagen said to International News Service. “I told him it was important I see him but could I see him tomorrow. He said he couldn’t make it and I said, ‘How about tonight?’ ”

Waitkus agreed to come to the room in 30 minutes. When he arrived about 11:30, he knocked on the door. Steinhagen opened and asked him to enter. She was holding a purse containing the knife.

Waitkus entered the room briskly, startling Steinhagen and giving her no time to reach for the knife. He walked toward a far corner and sat down in an armchair.

“I might not have shot him if he had come in differently without so much confidence,” Steinhagen said to United Press. “He swaggered in.”

As Waitkus settled into the chair, Steinhagen reached into the closet for the rifle, pointed it at him and told him to stand near the window, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“I thought at first it was a practical joke,” Waitkus said. “I thought the players had planned it.”

Steinhagen wasn’t fooling.

“She had the coldest-looking face I ever saw,” Waitkus said. “Absolutely no expression.”

“I have a surprise for you,” Steinhagen told Waitkus. “You are not going to bother me anymore.”

“What have I done?” he pleaded.

Steinhagen shot him in the right side of the chest at a range of 5 feet. The bullet pierced a lung, ripped into thick muscles in his back and lodged near his spine.

Waitkus slumped to the floor and rolled onto his back. “Oh, baby, why did you do that?” he said.

Steinhagen told police she lacked the courage to commit suicide as planned. She called the hotel operator and said she shot a man, then knelt next to Waitkus and held his hand, the New York Times reported.

A hotel house detective arrived and found Steinhagen sitting on a bench near an elevator on the 12th floor, The Sporting News reported. Waitkus was rushed to a hospital and Steinhagen was arrested.

Mentally ill

Steinhagen told police she “just had to shoot somebody.”

“Only in that way could I relieve the nervous tension I’ve been under the last two years,” she said. “The shooting has relieved that tension.”

In subsequent interviews, she said, “Since I shot Eddie, I have felt that I have a little control of myself for the first time.

“I know just why I did it. First, for revenge for everything that ever happened to me. Second, I liked him so much, I didn’t want anybody else to have him. Third, I know I couldn’t have him forever, so I wanted him for those few minutes.”

Steinhagen “is suffering from schizophrenia,” or split personality, Dr. William Haines of the Cook County Behavior Clinic in Chicago said. Dr. Edward Kelleher, director of the Municipal Court Psychiatric Institute, agreed, saying Steinhagen “is either schizophrenic or deep in the influence of a major hysteria.”

On June 30, 1949, two weeks after the shooting, Steinhagen was arraigned on a charge of assault with intent to commit murder, indicted on the charge by a grand jury and found insane by the jury. Chief Justice James McDermott of Criminal Court in Chicago committed Steinhagen to a state mental health hospital.

Dr. Haines spoke at the hearing and said Steinhagen was insane the night of the shooting and “for some years heretofore.”

At the mental health hospital, Steinhagen “underwent electroconvulsive therapy to alter the chemical balance in her brain, as well as hydrotherapy and occupational therapy,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Remarkable recovery

Waitkus spent a month in a Chicago hospital before returning to Philadelphia on July 17, 1949.

Living alone in a Philadelphia apartment, unsure of his baseball future, and physically weak and emotionally scarred, Waitkus told J.G. Taylor Spink of The Sporting News, “If I thought I had to go through the same thing again, the many operations, the fears, the uncertainty, the mental torture, I think I would rather die. It was really rugged.”

In November 1949, Waitkus went with Phillies trainer Frank Wiechec to Clearwater Beach, Fla., and underwent a grueling three-month program to get physically fit to play baseball.

“There were many times when I wondered and feared whether I would get back that confidence, that coordination of muscle and eye that baseball demands,” Waitkus told The Sporting News.

By the time the Phillies reported for spring training in Florida in February 1950, Waitkus was ready to join them.

“If it had not been for Frank Wiechec, our trainer, I don’t think I could have done it,” Waitkus said. “He was a combination of a father confessor and a Simon Legree. It was he who felt the wrath of all my worries, my pent up fears, who listened sympathetically when my nerves were jagged.”

While at Clearwater Beach, Waitkus met 20-year-old Carol Webel, who was vacationing there with her family from Albany, N.Y. The couple were married a year later on Nov. 17, 1951.

Waitkus earned back his job at spring training in 1950. Dick Sisler, the former Cardinal who replaced Waitkus at first base after the shooting, went to left field.

Waitkus batted .284, had 182 hits and scored 102 runs for the 1950 Phillies, who won the National League pennant. Though the Phillies were swept by the Yankees in the World Series, Waitkus had four hits and two walks in the four games.

Rough times

Soon after the start of the 1952 baseball season, Steinhagen was released from the psychiatric hospital where she had spent three years. She moved back into the Chicago house with her parents and sister and “disappeared into near obscurity,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Waitkus continued to hit for average _ .289 in 1952 and .291 in 1953 _ but the Phillies sold his contract to the Orioles in March 1954. At 34, he no longer was considered an everyday player. The Orioles released Waitkus in July 1955, the Phillies signed him and released him again after the season. He finished his playing career with a .285 batting average and 1,214 hits.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Waitkus began drinking heavily. He went to work for a trucking company but battled alcoholism and depression. His marriage suffered and he and Carol, the parents of two children, separated in 1960.

In 1961, Waitkus, suffering from anxiety, was admitted to a hospital for treatment.

His son, Eddie Waitkus Jr., known as Ted, told the Denver Post the shooting was “an emotional part” of his father’s life.

“His nerves were shattered for a while,” the son said to the New York Times.

Regarding the shooting, the son said, “He survived three years in the jungles of the Philippines with barely a scratch and he comes back here and this crazy honey with a gun, as he used to say, takes him out.”

In 1963, Waitkus moved back to his hometown of Cambridge and rented a room in a house. He lived alone and spent summers as a coach at the Ted Williams baseball camp in Lakeville, Mass.

A longtime smoker, Waitkus, 53, died at a Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston on Sept. 16, 1972, a victim of esophageal cancer.

Forty years later, Steinhagen, 83, died on Dec. 29, 2012, after an accidental fall in her house. There were no survivors. A recluse who never spoke of the shooting, her death went unnoticed until the Chicago Tribune reported it three months later, on March 15, 2013, while reviewing public records for another story.

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