The Shootings of Billy Jurges and Eddie Waitkus

Important Note

Note:  This page is way out of date.  I used to keep this updated on my Chicago Cubs website, The Shootings of Billy Jurges and Eddie Waitkus in the “Stories” section of  That page, however, is also out of date, as I have expanded my research into a book.  See below:

Book out on the shooting of Billy Jurges!!  My latest book, published by The History Press of Charleston, South Carolina (an imprint of Arcadia Publishing) is The Chicago Cub Shot for Love: A Showgirl’s Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series.

Here is a summary of the book, taken from the back cover: “In the summer of 1932, with the Cubs in the thick of the pennant race, Billy Jurges broke off his relationship with Violet Popovich to focus on baseball.  The famously beautiful showgirl took it poorly, marching into his hotel room with a revolver in her purse.  Both were wounded in the ensuring struggle, but Jurges refused to press charges.  Even without their star shortstop, Chicago made it to the World Series, only to be on the wrong end of Babe Ruth’s legendary Called Shot.  Using hundreds of original sources, Jack Bales profiles the lives of the ill-fated couple and traces the ripple effects of the shooting on the Cubs’ tumultuous season.”

My original sources include newspaper articles, interviews, archival documents, court records, and never-before-published photographs.  This was front-page news in Chicago, and newspapers clamored to provide the latest.  Who was the “mysterious blond companion” seen with Violet?  Do her formative years provide any insights into what may have led her to confront Billy Jurges in his hotel room and swiftly pull a gun from her purse? Did Babe Ruth really “call his shot”? I cover all this and more in my book, and one thing is certain: with her own shots earlier that summer, a young Chicago woman unwittingly set in motion events that indirectly changed baseball history.

The shooting made Violet something of a legend, as well. Author Bernard Malamud rarely discussed the sources for his works, but it seems likely that this shooting—as well as the 1949 shooting of former Cub Eddie Waitkus—inspired him to include a passage in his 1952 novel, The Natural, in which a woman shoots ballplayer Roy Hobbs. The Natural and that scene continue to live on today, thanks to the hit 1984 motion picture starring Robert Redford as Hobbs.

I have what I think is a marvelous PowerPoint on Billy and Violet, and I have already set up both in-person and Zoom presentations.  The chairpersons of a couple of book clubs have told me that they intend to select The Chicago Cub Shot for Love for their members to read, and asked if I could lead the online discussions.  Of course I can!

–Jack Bales (James E. Bales),