Edward Stephen “Eddie” Waitkus (September 4, 1919 - September 16, 1972) was an 11-year veteran of Major League Baseball during the 1940s and 1950s, but is perhaps best remembered as being involved in a bizarre shooting incident that morphed into the 1952 novel and 1984 motion picture, “The Natural.” The Chicago Cubs signed Eddie as an amateur free agent in 1939. He would spend four seasons with the Cubs (1941, 1946-1948), and was considered “a natural ballplayer” by many fans and contemporaries. His rookie year was interrupted by four years’ service in the U.S. Army during World War II (where his heroism earned him four Bronze Stars). His return to the field was marked by a remarkable .304 batting average in 1946 with a career-high 55 home runs. Despite being a star player for Chicago, with a .294 batting average, 455 hits, and 134 RBI, the team traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies (1949-1953). Eddie didn’t let the change of venue sidetrack his on-the-field ability, as he batted a career high .306 in 1949. However, on June 14, 1949, Waitkus was shot in the chest by an obsessed fan named Ruth Ann Steinhagen. Waitkus nearly lost his life as a result of the incident and the surgery required to remove the bullet, but he was back in the Phillies’ Opening Day lineup the next year, going 3-for-5 as their first baseman, and ending the 1950 campaign with a .284 average and a career-high number of runs (102) and hits (182). After the 1950 campaign, Waitkus was named the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year. Following two years with the Baltimore Orioles (1954-1955), he briefly returned to the Phillies before retiring. A two-time All-Star (1948, 1949), Eddie was a lifetime .285 hitter with 373 RBI, 1,214 hits, 528 runs.