Shooting of Phillies Player Inspired ‘The Natural’

The shooting of Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus in 1949 by an obsessed female fan is a haunting moment in baseball history. The .22 riffle fired by Ruth Ann Steinhagen continues to echo, not only in the novel The Natural written by Bernard Malamud and the movie of the same name with Robert Redford, but in the minds of baseball players who worry a crazed fan may someday harm them. Astrology provides insights into how the lives of the Eddie Waitkus and Ruth Ann Steinhagen collided, and how their story echoes in film and literature.

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Eddie Waitkus
Sept 4, 1919 9:25 am EWT
Cambridge, Mass 71W07; 42N22
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Eddie Waitkus

This is a rectified[1] birthchart for Eddie Waitkus. He was known to be exceptionally well-dressed and to carry himself in an erudite manner, traits that are consistent with the polished Rising Sign of Libra. A triple conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune stands out in Waitkus’s birthchart. Extreme warrior deeds are performed by those with strong aspects between Mars and Neptune. Jupiter amplified this warrior energy and sent him to do battle overseas. Waitkus would be highly decorated in WWII; his medals include four bronze stars. While his team, the Cubs, was winning the 1945 pennant, Waitkus experienced heavy combat in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Waitkus’s triple conjunction also manifested in athletic ability and his position of first base.  When a player’s natal Mars is in strong aspect to a planet that rules a position, he or she will have a strong affinity for the position of that planet. With such an aspect between his Mars and Neptune, [2] Waitkus was drawn to the position of first base when his father bought him a first baseman’s glove at age eight.[3] Jupiter’s presence in the conjunction enlarged this gift. Waitkus was indeed considered a “natural” first baseman, a label he was given early in his career,[4] and he is still considered one of the best to ever play the position.

Waitkus would suffer lasting trauma not only from the shooting by Steinhagen, but from his service in WWII. Had he served in a more recent war, he would have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. His emotional shattering was a manifestation of the opposition of his Moon in Capricorn to Pluto in Cancer. A Moon in Capricorn grapples with issues of emotional control, but any such control is wrecked by a harsh aspect from Pluto. The planet Pluto challenges and disrupts all structures, whether established institutions or emotional walls. Another aspect in his birthchart that would manifest in PTSD is Mercury in Leo opposed by Uranus in Aquarius. Mercury rules the nervous system. Such an aspect from Uranus to Mercury can be like having one’s finger caught in a light socket. Eddie Waitkus’s son described his father’s nervous condition. “His nerves were shattered for a while. …The fall from grace as an athlete was difficult for him. And he didn’t really recognize the problems, but they hampered him the rest of his life.”[5]   

Ruth Ann Steinhagen
Dec. 23, 1929 8:15 am CST
Chicago, Ill. 87W39; 41N51
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Ruth Ann Arrested

This is a rectified[6] birthchart for Ruth Ann Steinhagen who would shoot Eddie Waitkus when she was 19-years-old. She has multiple planets in her Twelfth House, the house of solitude. These placements reflect the three years she would live confined in a mental institution, and the many years of her life she lived secluded after being released. Her birthchart includes a very challenging t-square between the Sun and Saturn conjunct in Capricorn, the Moon in Libra, and Uranus in Aries. If we allow Mercury at 15 degrees Capricorn to be loosely conjunct to her Sun and Saturn, they bring in an opposition from Pluto at 18 degrees Cancer to complete a grand cross of planets in cardinal signs. Grand crosses contain conflicting urges that are difficult to integrate, as they include planets in all elements and planets above and below the horizon. Steinhagen lived a long life after she was released from a mental hospital, and she may have integrated these planets into a healthy balance before she died.  But when she was nineteen, these planets would manifest in obsession and violence. Her Sun is conjunct to Saturn in the sign of Capricorn, which indicates a life orientation of burdens and rigidity. Her Moon is in the romantic sign of Libra. But her lunar Libra desires could never be fulfilled since they suffered a square from her oppressive Capricorn planets and a traumatizing opposition from Uranus in Aries. An opposition from Uranus to the Moon indicates a rupture of emotional attachments, possibly an uprooting from a place of origin, a breach from parents, or a severe romantic heartbreak. Also, as Uranus rules electricity, this aspect would manifest in the shock therapy she endured while in a mental institution. Finally, Pluto’s opposition to her Sun and the dark planet’s square to her Moon released overpowering emotions and obsessive desires. Together, these difficult aspects would ferment within the dark caverns of Ruth Ann’s psyche and give birth to her obsession with Eddie Waitkus.

The aspects between the birthcharts of Ruth Ann Steinhagen and Eddie Waitkus suggest a karmic relationship. Her Sun and Saturn are tightly conjunct to his Moon in Capricorn. Sun and Moon intra-aspects are generally fertile for relationships, but theirs were choked by being placed in the stony sign of Capricorn with the added burden of her Saturn oppressing them both. His Sun and Saturn in Virgo are conjunct to her Eighth House Neptune in Virgo. Since the Eighth House corresponds to the belongings of the partner, an Eighth House Neptune is consistent with an imaginary partner and the delusion that one owns him. Here, Waitkus’s Sun and Saturn were firmly conjunct to Ruth Ann’s Eighth House Neptune, triggering this impulse. His Venus is retrograde at 24 Virgo and tightly square to her Venus and Mars conjunction of 20 and 25 degrees Sagittarius. Squares between Mars and Venus often indicate tumultuous relationships. It is also striking that both have the Sun conjunct to Saturn in their individual birthcharts and that these are trine to each other, suggesting an agreement of shared hardship and responsibility.

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Eddie Waitkus Traded
Dec. 14, 1948 12:00 pm CST
Chicago, Ill 87W39; 41N51
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Ruth Ann frequently attended games at Wrigley Field where she watched Eddie play. She also saved many newspaper clippings about him and created a shrine to Eddie in her home. In 1948, the Cubs would finish the season in last place. The following winter, bad news awaited her. December 14, 1948 would prove a devastating day for Ruth Ann as her Mercury received a conjunction from Mars. Her Mercury, the planet of news and information, would absorb the bad news that Eddie Waitkus was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Mars was also opposite her Pluto, unleashing her dark rage. Jupiter in Sagittarius was conjunct her Mars and Venus, inflating her sexual desire. Worst of all, Saturn had been in transit conjunct to her Neptune in Virgo, getting ready to crush her dream. That day, the Moon was in Gemini squaring Saturn in Virgo, triggering the news that broke her dream.

Although the trade would accelerate Ruth Ann’s desire to harm Waitkus, she had previously considered thoughts of violence towards him. While she was confined, she wrote an account of what she had done, at the request of her psychiatrist. Her narrative includes the following: “I used to go to all the ballgames just to watch him. We used to wait for them to come out of the clubhouse after the game, and all the time I was watching him, 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. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I would kill him.”

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Eddie Waitkus Shot
June 14, 1949 11:25 pm CDT
Chicago, Ill 87W39; 41N51
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Ruth Ann Steinnhagen in Court; E Waitkus on the Right

The following June, Eddie’s new team, the Phillies, were in Chicago to play the Cubs. Waitkus was having an outstanding season, batting .306 and leading in all-star votes for his position. On June 14, they would wallop the Northside team 9-2 behind the pitching of Russ Myer and the 4 rbi’s of catcher Andy Seminick. Eddie Waitkus would bat 1 for 4 and score 2 runs. After the game, Eddie enjoyed a night on the town with a few Phillies teammates and their family members. Ruth Ann had purchased a rifle at a pawn shop and lay in wait for him in Room 1297A of the Chicago Edgewater Beach Hotel, where the Phillies were staying. She paid the bellboy $5, a huge amount at the time, to give Eddie a note which read, “It’s 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. I think it would be to your advantage to let me explain it to you. …Please come soon. I won’t take much of your time.”

Newspaper accounts report that she shot him near 11:30 pm after telling him, “You’re not going to bother me anymore.” [7]The bullet penetrated his lung, which is consistent with the Sun in Gemini, the sign of lungs. A chart cast for 11:25 pm contains Mars, the planet that triggered the violence, exactly conjunct the IC. The Sun at 23 degrees Gemini was conjunct the Phillies Jupiter and square their Uranus. Venus was at 9 degrees Cancer, conjunct the Phillies MC. These transits had helped the Phillies win big that day, but they had less to do with the shooting than the opposition between the Moon in Aquarius to Pluto in Leo. The Moon and Pluto would sandwich the Phillies’ Neptune of 16 degrees Taurus into a t-square. In the Phillies chart, it was this transit to their natal Neptune, the planet of first base, that reflects the near lethal bullet fired at their first baseman.

Philadelphia Phillies
Dec. 7, 1882 1:36 pm EST
Philadelphia, Pa. 75W09; 39N59

When he was shot, Waitkus was suffering a Saturn return as transiting Saturn was conjunct to his natal Saturn of 3 degrees Virgo. But more immediate to that night, Mars at 3 degrees Gemini formed an exact square to his Saturn as well, bringing him the bullet to his lung. The Sun at 23 Gemini was also square to his Venus retrograde in Virgo, bringing him harsh energy from a woman.

Ruth Ann was also reacting to the aspect of Mars square to Saturn. Saturn had been conjunct to her Neptune since the trade of Eddie the winter before. Now Mars in Gemini was square to her Neptune as well. Her Neptune dream had been crushed by Saturn. Now the square from Mars would give her a gun to release her pain. Initially, Ruth Ann had planned to kill herself as well, but she did not act on that part of her plan.

Ruth Ann Becomes Obsessed
June 13, 1948 2:00 pm CDT
Chicago, Ill 87W39; 41N51

We can look at back at the day when her obsession first began for more astrological insights.  Ruth Ann first noticed Eddie Waitkus in 1947. That year, Eddie was the starting first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. He was having an outstanding season and would finish the year with a .292 batting average. On April 27 of that year, a dying Babe Ruth would deliver his farewell address at Yankee Stadium. His speech was broadcast at baseball stadiums across the nation. That same day, Ruth Ann Steinhagen would attend a game at Wrigley Field and become focused on Eddie Waitkus.[8] That afternoon, Neptune at 10 degrees Libra was conjunct her Moon, setting her up for a delusional romantic obsession. Neptune can bring an intoxicating loss of reality. At her home, Steinhagen would begin setting a plate for Eddie as if he were her dinner guest. She would also learn Lithuanian, the language of Eddie’s heritage, and begin eating baked beans because he was from Boston.

Another transit occurred to Ruth Ann that April afternoon that suggests something beyond mental illness. The Sun at 8 degrees Taurus was conjunct to her North Node and Chiron conjunction. The field of Evolutionary Astrology[9] theorizes that aspects that involve the Lunar Nodes are a path towards personal soul evolution. Research by Mark Jones[10] shows that transits involving these nodes are present when two individuals meet who are important to each other’s soul evolution. Meanwhile, transits to Chiron are generally considered a road towards healing. The transit of the Sun here intimates there was something healing and evolving in Ruth Ann’s attraction to Eddie Waitkus. She is quoted as saying, “I used to have terrible feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and then one day, I saw Waitkus. I think that for the first time in my life I felt happy, really happy.”[11] Such “terrible feelings of hopelessness and helplessness” are consistent with her Sun conjunct Saturn. That afternoon at Wrigley Field, with the Sun in aspect to her North Node, Ruth Ann found her road. But unfortunately, Pluto, Saturn, and the Moon were all square to her North Node that afternoon, which made her road a dark and difficult one. Planets in aspect to the Nodes at the time of a meeting will reflect the nature of the relationship and its challenges. Paradoxically, three years after the shooting, Ruth Ann would be pronounced “cured” by a court of law. She would lead the rest of her life without a public record of mental illness. Little is known about Ruth Ann’s life after she was released, but perhaps she led the best possible life for her soul evolution.

The transits that Eddie Waitkus experienced that April afternoon at Wrigley Field also involved the lunar nodes and suggest that the meeting was evolutionary for him as well. The transitting nodes were in the early degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius and square to Eddie’s Saturn in Virgo. The encounter would prove quite Saturnian for Waitkus. He nearly died, then underwent four operations before the bullet was finally removed from his lung. Afterwards, he underwent a long and difficult rehabilitation to regain his strength as an athlete. Remarkably, he did succeed. Eddie Waitkus returned to the Phillies line up the following year. His comeback inspired the Phillies. Waitkus would play a key role as the Whiz Kids won the National League pennant of 1950. Years later, Waitkus would remark that his shooting has led to good things, such as meeting his future-wife while he was undergoing rehabilitation in Florida. Saturn pays off in time, rewarding those who endure its hardships with cherished prizes such as a life partner and a National League pennant.

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The Natural Novel
Aug. 21, 1952 12:00 pm
New York, NY 73W59; 40N45
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In 1952, Ruth Ann Steinhagen was pronounced cured by her doctors, and the courts and prosecutors agreed with their findings. Also, Eddie Waitkus declined to press charges against her.[12] She was released from Kankahee State Hospital where she had undergone shock therapy. That same year, Bernard Malamud’s novel The Natural would be released on August 21.[13] The novel was based on the life of Eddie Waitkus. It introduced the character of Roy Hobbs, who was also shot by a female fan and then undertook a long and difficult comeback. The novel contains occasional Neptunian flights. Still, the book is gritty and Saturnian literature. Interestingly, the transits for the release of the novel contain a Neptune and Saturn aspect. On its release date, Saturn was positioned at 12 degrees Libra, conjunct the degree of Neptune when the shooting occurred three years before. Jupiter was in transit at 20 degrees Taurus and conjunct to the Phillies Saturn and South Node, bringing an uplift to the hard rocks of the Phillies’ past. Transitting Pluto and the South Node were square to the Phillies Saturn from 21 degrees Leo; and the Sun, in transit at 29 degrees Leo, was square to the Phillies Pluto. These transits entered a wound within the Phillies Nation. But with help from Jupiter, the planet of books, this wound  was transformed into literature.

The Natural Movie
May 11, 1984 12:00 pm EDT
New York, NY 73W59; 40N45

  When The Natural was released as a movie on May 11, 1984,[14] the Phillies chart would undergo similar transits. The Sun at 21 degrees Taurus was conjunct the team’s Saturn, while Mars at 21 Scorpio was at the opposite degree of the zodiac and conjunct the Phillies’ North Node. Unlike the book which portrays Roy Hobbs as a tragically flawed and willing to accept a bribe, the movie transforms Roy Hobbs into the archetypical baseball hero. When the film was released, Neptune, the planet of movies, would provide the key transits. Neptune at 2 degrees Capricorn was conjunct to Waitkus’s Moon and trine his Sun and Saturn, painting him as baseball’s Neptunian ideal, the player who, in the bottom of the ninth inning of the last game of the season, hits the homerun to win the pennant. Neptune was also conjunct to Ruth Ann’s Sun and Saturn, uploading her notorious conduct onto the silver screen.

Eddie Waitkus died of esophageal cancer in 1972 at the age of 52. He would also suffer from alcoholism, a common ailment for first basemen and those with a strong Neptune. Ruth Ann would far outlive him, dying in 2012 at the age of 83 of a subdural hematoma after a fall in her home.  It is not known whether either of them ever read The Natural, which was unflattering to both of their characters.  Ruth Ann was 55-years-old when the movie was released in 1984. The movie created a much more likeable portrait of Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, than the book. But the character based on Ruth Ann is neither developed nor sympathetic.

It is not known whether Ruth Ann ever saw the movie, but transits suggest it helped to heal her. At the time of the film’s release, the lunar nodes were again in the early degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius just as they were when she and Eddie crossed paths in 1947. The North Node in Gemini was also conjunct to Chiron, an indicator of healing. Perhaps Chiron and the Nodes brought healing if not closure to their relationship and the crime.  Regardless, Neptune and Hollywood would transform Eddie Waitkus into the archetype of Roy Hobbs, allowing movie fans to see Eddie as a mythic hero, similar to the one she had loved. Hollywood’s imagination cannot be the same as the imagination of Ruth Ann Steinhagen, but with aid from Neptune, each sails alongside the other.     



[1] An IC of 21 Capricorn agrees with a solar arc progression of Pluto to oppose this IC at age 14 when his mother passed away. 

[2] Love, Cesar Baseball: An Astrological Sightline

[3]  Rogers III, C. Paul “Eddie Waitkus” SABR Baseball Biography Project. Society of American Baseball Research sabr.com

[4] Ibid

[5]Ruth Ann Steinhagen is Dead at 83: Shot a Ballplayer” New York Times March 24, 2013

[6] Mars progressed by Solar arc becomes conjunct her Ascendant at age 19 when she shot Eddie Waitkus. Uranus progressed by solar arc becomes conjunct her IC at age 23 when she is released from a mental institution.

[7] Edelman, Rob “Eddie Waitkus and “The Natural”: What is Assumption? What is Fact?” Society for American Baseball Research. 2013. https://sabr.org/research/eddie-waitkus-and-natural-what-assumption-what-fact

[8] Chicago Tonight WTTW Eddie Waitkus Documentary 2006   https://video.wttw.com/video/chicago-tonight-march-15-2013-2006-eddie-waitkus-documentary/

[9] https://schoolofevolutionaryastrology.com/

[10] Jones, Mark “First Contact: An Astrological Investigation of Meeting Destiny through Relationship” lecture presented at NORWAC 2020. May 2020

[11] Chicago Tonight WTTW Eddie Waitkus Documentary 2006   https://video.wttw.com/video/chicago-tonight-march-15-2013-2006-eddie-waitkus-documentary/

[12] Goldborough, Bob “Chicago woman was real-life stalker from ‘The Natural’” Chicago Tribune March 14, 2013

[13] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Natural

[14] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Natural_(film)

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