CHICAGO -- She inspired a novel and a movie starring Robert Redford when in 1949 she lured a major-league ballplayer she'd never met into a hotel room with a cryptic note and shot him, nearly killing him.After the headlines faded, Ruth Ann Steinhagen did something else just as surprising: She disappeared into obscurity, living a quiet life in Chicago until now, more than a half-century later, when news broke that she had died three months earlier.The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed Friday that Ms. Steinhagen passed away on Dec. 29, at the age of 83.First reported by the Chicago Tribune, her identity was a surprise even to the morgue employees who knew about the 1984 movie The Natural.The story began with what appeared to be just another young woman's crush on Eddie Waitkus, the Chicago Cubs' first baseman.After the 1948 season, Waitkus was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies -- a fateful turn.Ms. Steinhagen had her chance the next season, when the Phillies came to Chicago to play the Cubs. She checked into a room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel and invited him to her room."We're not acquainted, but I have something of importance to speak to you about," she wrote in a note to him after a game on June 14, 1949. It worked. Waitkus arrived at her room. After he sat down, Ms. Steinhagen walked to a closet, said, "I have a surprise for you," then turned with the rifle she had hidden there and shot him in the chest.Newspapers devoured and trumpeted the lurid story of a 19-year-old baseball groupie, known in the parlance of the day as a "Baseball Annie."A judge determined she was insane and committed her to a mental hospital. She was released three years later.