5 Star #bookreview from Joanie for “Eddie and the Gun Girl”

5 stars

Baseball Players Treated Like Rock Stars during the late 1940’s/Early 1950’s, January 23, 2015
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This review is from: Eddie and the Gun Girl (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)

It was 1949 and the Philadelphia Phillies had an all-star first baseman named Eddie Waitkus. Eddie’s life and athleticism was detoured when he was shot defenseless and unaware in a hotel room. Ruth Steinhagen, a woman with a long-term mental illness and an obsessive fan of Eddie’s daydreamed constantly about him. In her mind, there was only one relief from her yearning: to kill him. She sent him a message to meet her in her motel room and Eddie went to her room, curious about what it was all about. There, she shot him. (As I read this, incredible that anyone would go to a stranger’s hotel room without even meeting the person first or knowing them, I had to remember that this was a more innocent time than the present day we live in, with more reasons and history to be suspicious of strangers.)

In any event, Eddie survived the shot to his gut but goes downhill from there. He eventually dies at the young age of 53 with cancer of the esophagus, his health not stellar from years of cigarettes and liquor. In the meantime, Ruth spent a short time in a mental hospital, lived a life of obscurity, working in an office for many years, never marrying and finally dies at the old age of 83, with no survivors. The United States Secret Service considers Ruth as “ground zero in the evolution of the obsessed fan.”

What was interesting about this story for me was the history of the baseball player. I’ve seen the famous photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. I wasn’t alive back then but after reading this story, I’ve come to realize that the baseball player was, in that time, like a rock star is now, in the present time. They were pampered and catered to, the girls and women loved and swooned over them, and they were treated like kings wherever they went. The popularity of baseball players is further explored when the book mentions actor Lupe Velez, the sultry “Mexican Spitfire,” who dated men such as Gary Cooper, Charlie Chaplin and others, who was once photographed holding hands with Eddie in Hollywood. (Sadly, later in life she commits suicide.) The era in which Eddie existed was different than mine and I only wonder what would have happened if he had lived in my time. Would he have lived to a ripe old age and enjoyed a longer career in baseball? Would he have ended up richer, happier, with more accolades and rewards? Would he have been more on alert for an obsessed fan (certainly more educated)? I enjoyed the story and learned a little bit about baseball history to boot.

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