Waitkus was a top defensive first baseman and a lefthanded line-drive hitter. After his All-Star 1948 season, he was traded by the Cubs to the Phillies. He was hitting more than .300 in mid-June 1949 when, in a bizarre incident in a Chicago hotel, he was shot in the chest and almost killed by a young woman he did not know – the real-life inspiration for Bernard Malamud’s The Natural. Waitkus worked hard to come back in 1950 and, as the Phillies ‘ leadoff hitter, helped them to win the NL pennant; he batted .284 and scored 102 runs, playing in 154 games. After being sold to the Orioles during spring training of 1954, he returned to Philadelphia in late 1955 and retired that fall.