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Nation/World

March 18, 2013

Obsessed fan who shot player, inspired film dies

(Continued)

“I found out through my ex-wife — I’m not sure how she found out — and I looked (Steinhagen) up online. And as soon as I saw (her photograph) online I said, ‘That’s her,’ ” Gentner said.

The 1984 movie was based on a novel by Bernard Malamud that was inspired by the story. Theodore’s 2002 book was titled “Baseball’s Natural: The story of Eddie Waitkus.”

Waitkus, who played the season after he was shot, helping the Phillies win the National League pennant, decided not to press charges in 1952 when Steinhagen was deemed sane. The trial would have likely made banner headlines — particularly since Malamud’s novel was released in 1952 — so Watikus’ decision almost certainly assisted Steinhagen’s disappearance into obscurity.

He died in 1972, 12 years before Redford portrayed Roy Hobbs, the character inspired by Waitkus.

“He hardly ever talked to his family about Ruth,” Theodore said.

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