Feigner (pronounced FAY-ner) was the star of the King and also His Court, the best fast-pitch softball pitcher to ever roam the earth. Throughout his barnstorming career together the King, a road expedition that started in 1946, Feigner, follow to his meticulous documents won 9,743 games, struck the end 141,517 batters, fired 930 no-hitters and pitched 238 perfect games.
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His team won 95 percent the the time, playing games almost everywhere from Yankee stadium to the an excellent Wall that China.
The King to be clocked officially at throwing the softball 104 miles every hour. He was a whirling dervish, transferring pitches from all angles and also even blindfolded. He as soon as struck out a hitter native centerfield - and also on the football field hit the goal posts from 100 yards away.
No one had a best arm like fast Eddie.
Feigner was on the mound in addition to three other players, a catcher, a shortstop and a very first baseman. That’s it. That’s every the King needed; the various other three players to be his court.
Why four players?
Eddie said he might have done it with simply a catcher and also one fielder yet went up to four players so once his team loaded the bases there would certainly be a batter.
The King and also His Court play everywhere, taking on every comers v the traveling soft ball show/circus, constantly outnumbered by opponents who fielded a full squad. It to be a crowd-pleasing show and also the King and His Court would play roughly 220 games over a season.
Feigner hung up his spikes after suffering a stroke in 2000. Ten years earlier he suffered a heart assault that slowed that down. He passed away in 2007 in ~ the period of 81.
So what was it like to play v the King?
rebab.net when again has the answer. I sat down through Dave Barnett, who played shortstop for Eddie in the beforehand ‘80s. Due to the fact that 1988, Barnett has actually been the exceptionally successful head baseball coach in ~ Flagler university in St. Augustine, Fla.
Barnett, 62, to be the centerfielder because that the college of phibìc Carolina in 1978 as soon as the Tar Heels went to the college World series and finished third. The was Mike Roberts’ squad. Yes, previous Oriole Brian Roberts’ dad.
Barnett played a year in the Expos organization, was released, but the speedy outfielder had a pair of tryouts lined up in 1980 therefore he took a project as a groundskeeper for Wes Rinker, a former minor league pitcher that ran a baseball academy at Sanford stadion in Sanford, Fla.
At that time, Barnett had never heard that the King and also His Court. He to be asked to put up posters in the area for an upcoming show. That’s as soon as fate stepped into his life.
The neighborhood team the was to play the King was a male short, therefore Rinker had actually Barnett join the locals’ lineup. The stadium was filling up with just about an hour before the video game when the phone call rang in Rinker’s office in ~ the ballpark. Feigner to be on the various other end and said the King and also His Court shortstop had quit the night before in Orlando. He required a brand-new shortstop.
Barnett, 21 in ~ the time, was Rinker’s guy to play v the King. One night soon came to be four and a fifty percent years of travel the country and also different parts of the world, including an excursion come Saudi Arabia come play fast-pitch softball and also as always, placed on a show.
“Eddie was the critical of the true barnstormers,” Barnett called me as we satellite socially distanced in ~ a farmer’s table in ~ Auggies draft Room, a delightful self-serve tap residence on St. George Street in historical St. Augustine. “Eddie appreciated the showmanship, being on the road, being the star. It to be literally choose being in a band v Bruce Springsteen. Eddie to be the star.
“It didn’t issue who the other men were. Eddie truly was the King.”
Feigner inquiry perfection in a job where just getting from one venue, one state come the next was a an overwhelming task through all-night drives and then a show, and another and then another.
“When Eddie would get pissed at us, he would say I deserve to replace you guys anytime,” Barnett stated with a laugh. “He had the King syndrome. Also his son referred to as him the King. We never ever hung out with him other than for the games. Many normal human being wouldn’t placed up v his stuff, yet you put up with it since of the money. There were times once I might have go away however then okay, what am ns going come do, go back to mine $5 an hour pipes job?”
Eddie Jr. To be in law school in ~ the time and also that’s why Barnett was needed on the team.
“Eddie said, ‘I’ll pay you $600 a week,” Barnett recalled. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Damn, i was make $600 a month in the young leagues.’ I’ll never ever forget going home, waking up my mom and also saying, “Mom I got a job. I gained to leave in the morning.’’
So It was onto Statesboro, Ga. And also soon, the remainder of the country.
“In those first six weeks us were in 14 various states,” Barnett said. “There to be no days off, 220 games in six months and doubleheaders top top weekends. Friend earned her money.”
Feigner an initial established self on the company team circuit in Walla Walla, Washington in the so late 1930s. Sooner or later he took on a challenge, speak he could beat a mouthy adversary with just a catcher.
“Eddie to be a genius at marketing and he come up with this entirety thing, the King and also his Court,” Barnett said. “He put the schedule together and also everything else.
“It was significant what he could do. No one threw favor Eddie and the means he captured the crowd,’’ Barnett said.
“I to be a quiet kid and now i couldn’t it is in quiet,” Barnett claimed of being a member of the Court. “Eddie did teach me to be a showman. I had actually one vital line. Us were funded by fearbut High Life in 1981. It would be the last inning. There would certainly be 2 outs and he would gain two strikes on the batter and he’d action toward our catcher and say, ‘There’s two outs, two strikes. This is going to be the last pitch’ and everybody would certainly laugh.
“He would walk earlier to the mound and that was my cue, I’d begin walking turn off the ar real slow. And also Eddie would begin his windup, watch me wade off, stop and also say, ‘Where are you going?’
“I’d say, ‘You claimed there were 2 strikes, two outs, last pitch. I’m going home.’ climate I’d stop for a 2nd and take it my hat off, lean ago and shout, ‘It’s müller Time!’
“Then that go v this crazy windup and also he’s got the sphere in his hand, he goes behind his earlier and go boom, litter the ball yet catches it in his glove and it would be for this reason fast, and our catcher, who had another ball, boom - would hit his glove - it would certainly be all timing because he had actually a sphere too. It to be choreographed perfectly. Therefore many people thought Eddie threw the pitch.”
You can’t hit what you can’t see. You also can’t struggle what isn’t thrown but that was all part of the show.
“Eddie preferred me, that was great to me,” claimed Barnett, that would fill-in on chance after his four and also a half-year stint ended. “And also after the I preserved in touch. And when they concerned Florida, I would certainly go check out them. In fact, I promoted two games when i was teaching at Flagler. I talked come him probably a week prior to he died.
“The best component of the display was the pitching exhibition Eddie would give after the game,” Barnett explained. “Eddie would certainly take you v how fast pitch started. That wasn’t just windmill there to be slingshot. You have to stay within six inches of her body. There was orthodox. The sphere did weird stuff favor a knuckleball.”
It all became a fast-pitch history lesson after the show.
“I to be the world’s ideal softball pitcher by at the very least 100%,” Feigner told sports Illustrated’s Curry Kirkpatrick back in 1972. “I have the right to say this because I have never met or watched anybody who was all over near half as an excellent as me. I have actually perfect control. Ns throw the finest changeup there ever was. Ns throw other pitches no one can. My in-drop and in-raise room super pitches and unique. Anyone have the right to throw the out-drop or out-raise, but everywhere I travel pitchers asking me exactly how to throw the others.”
The King walk not have actually a usual bone in his body, yet that’s why he to be the King, he was the good. The King additionally was hugely admired by several of the other sports’ best stars.
“We to be in a restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa, for a huge pro-am golf tournament,” Barnett recalled. “We didn’t obtain to the hotel until choose 9 o’clock in ~ night and also Eddie claimed we were playing the pro-am the following day.”
The adhering to day after that was the softball video game that featured the Oak Ridge Boys, played in the college of Iowa’s baseball stadium, a charity event.
“We enter the dining room come eat and Tom Watson come over, and also you have to remember the at the time he was favor Tiger Woods, he come over and says, ‘Eddie, just how you doing? have the right to I come over and also sit through you guys? the was all enthralled through Eddie and he to be winning every those tournaments in the early ‘80s.”
Watson played in the video game as well. “On ours bench is Ernie Banks and also Stan Musial, just sitting and also talking v Eddie,’’ Barnett said of the iconic hall of Famers.
Hitting fast-pitch is so difficult that Barry Bonds once said that he truly believed softball pitcher Jennie Finch might strike that out. The increase ball is one more world and so is the drop. In a 1967 exhibition video game at Dodger Stadium, Feigner struck out in succession: Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson, Willie McCovey, Maury Wills and also Harmon Killebrew.
“It is a good feeling to understand that ns am the only among my type in the history of the world,” Feigner proclaimed to SI.
Then there was the night the July 28, 1981, during the major league strike.
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The King and also His Court played against “The super Stars” at the Pontiac Silverdome.
Magic Johnson, future NBA room of Famer and also a Michigan native, and former Tiger gateways Brown placed together the at sight Stars that featured players favor Mickey Lolich and also Tigers shortstop and also future baseball room of Famer Alan Trammell. “There to be 17,000 people there,’’ Barnett recalled. “The largest crowd I ever before played in prior of through the King and also His Court.”
Barnett tripled come lead turn off the game, sliding tough into third base and ripping his pants on the synthetic turf. Magic, that had already won a championship with the Lakers in 1979-80, his rookie season, was the third baseman. Magic smiled that Magic smile and also told Barnett, “Damn, you’re fast.’’