The first time Ruth Steinhagen looked upon Eddie ("Cowboy") Waitkus with her large, glassy blue eyes, her brain bubbled with a strange, painful excitement.. That was out at Chicago's Wrigley Field near the end of the 1946 season when Eddie was playing first for the Cubs. Ruth fell hard. She stopped loving Movie Actor Alan Ladd, wrote off a passing outfielder and decided to do something big some day about Eddie, namely, kill him.
By the time she was 19, Ruth Steinhagen, in her craving for excitement, had left a whole generation of mere bobby-soxers far behind. She found life inexpressibly boring. She was a $37.50-a-week insurance-company typist who wanted to be a model, but thought she was too "nervous." Besides, while she was almost six feet tall, she was skinny, and her dark, curling hair framed only a flat face with a big nose.
Even after the Cubs sold First-Baseman Eddie to the Phillies, Ruth worshiped him from an altar of his pictures on her night table. Once she got up near to him outside the ballpark and fainted. In her diary she wrote: "Phils are losing. I bet it's none of Eddie's fault," and on the same page, "I'll be glad when you're dead, you rascal you." Papa Steinhagen, a no-nonsense die-setter and father of another, less emotional daughter, got fed up with all the foolishness. Ruth's folks sent her to a psychiatrist but she went only once, and it didn't do any good. Indignant at Papa's ways, Ruth flounced out of the family flat in January and went to live by herself.
Surprise, Surprise . . . One day last week she knocked down a .22 calibre rifle she had bought in a pawnshop, put it in a suitcase, took all the money she had in the world ($85) out of the bank, and booked a room for three days at the expensive Edgewater Beach Hotel, where the Phillies and Eddie were staying. She told a girl friend mysteriously that by the following night the girl would have all kinds of exciting things to talk about. The next afternoon she and another girl friend saw most of a game in which the Phils beat the Cubs 9-2. Eddie got a hit and Ruth was happy. Ruth went back to the hotel by herself and got all dolled up. She even put a pair of flashy, brilliant-studded combs in her hair.
She ordered two whisky sours and a Daiquiri, sipped from all three glasses and read over a note she had written the day before. It said: "It's extremely important that I see you . . . We're not acquainted. . . my name is Ruth Anne Burns and I'm in Room 1297-A . . . Please, come soon. I won't take up much of your time, I promise." Then she gave a bellhop $5 to take it to Eddie's room.
Eddie didn't show up and Ruth decided to forget about killing him and go to sleep. But her phone rang at 11:20 p.m. Eddie had been out and had just gotten her note. Yes, he'd be up.
As she had promised, Ruth didn't take up much of Eddie's time. She was all set to stab him with a paring knife, but he got past her and plunked himself down in an armchair. "I have a surprise for you," she said. She fumbled in the closet for the loaded rifle and waved it in his face. "For two years," she said, "you've been bothering me and now you're going to die."