Baseball's Natural is John Theodore's true account of the slick-fielding first baseman who played for the Cubs and the Phillies in the 1940s and became immortalized in baseball lore as the inspiration for Bernard Malamud's The Natural. Eddie Waitkus grew up in Boston and fought in the Pacific theater in World War II. Following the war, Waitkus became one of the most popular players of his era. In 1949, with his career on the rise, his life changed dramatically in a Chicago hotel when a nineteen-year-old shot him in the chest. Waitkus’s dramatic recovery the next year inspired his teammates as the Phillies won the National League pennant. Although Waitkus survived the shooting, he could never outlive it.
Through interviews with Waitkus’s family, fellow servicemen, former ballplayers, and childhood friends, and aided by fifteen photographs, Theodore chronicles Waitkus’s remarkable comeback as well as the difficult years following his Major League career.