Baseball's Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus

By John Theodore | Go to book overview

12
Hero's Journey

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.

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Baseball's Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Foreword xv
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction xxiii
  • Major League Career Statistics for Eddie Waitkus xxv
  • Baseball's Natural *
  • 1 - Room 1297 A 1
  • 2 - Building a Dream 6
  • 3 - A Sealed Fate 12
  • 4 - A Swift Judgement Day 16
  • 5 - East Cambridge and Beyond 20
  • 6 - Chicago to Philadelphia 31
  • 7 - Baseball Annies 41
  • 8 - Clearwater Beach 47
  • 9 - Comeback 55
  • 10 - Kankakee State Hospital 61
  • 11 - All the Game's Wild Glory 66
  • 12 - Hero's Journey 83
  • 13 - In the Shadows 89
  • 14 - No Sentiment in Baseball 95
  • 15 - A Quiet Existence 105
  • 16 - Hidden Enemy 115
  • 17 - The Pleasure of Your Own 122
  • 18 - Lost Hero 131
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