After the final game of the World Series, Eddie Waitkus stepped on the scales in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. He weighed less than 160 pounds. “I hadn't weighed that little since high school, ” he told a teammate.
The long baseball season of 1950 and the stress of the pennant stretch drive hit Waitkus hard. Physically and mentally, he was exhausted. Days after the World Series, he entered Boston's Leahy Clinic for an series of medical tests. He was anemic, his nerves were on edge, and he was having trouble sleeping. “There were so many things wrong with me I thought I needed a mortician, ” Waitkus said. “I was certainly coffin bait. ”
His doctors ordered rest, plenty of it, so Waitkus headed for Florida in November. Clearwater Beach became his sanctuary, a place where he could always relax, become stronger, and get his thoughts together. This is where he had overcome his physical and psychological fears following the shooting and where he made himself into a baseball player again. Waitkus spent several weeks resting on Clearwater Beach, and again he became rejuvenated in the Florida sun. He gained fifteen pounds and spent his days as a selfconfessed beachcomber.
Veteran Philadelphia baseball writer Frank Yeutter was a close friend of Waitkus. Yeutter, like Waitkus, was a history buff, and he found Eddie's intellect refreshing. Yeutter described Waitkus as “a debonair, sharp tongued, urbane New Englander, always ready with a quip, always humming the latest tune. ” Yeutter and Waitkus enjoyed each other's company, and their conversations usually transcended baseball. And they occasionally drank together. When Yeutter covered the baseball winter meetings in St. Petersburg, he took the opportunity to find his old friend.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Baseball's Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus. Contributors: John Theodore - Author. Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press. Place of publication: Carbondale, IL. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 83.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.