In the 1970's Sports Illustrated
dubbed Eddie Feigner
the most underrated athlete of his time. Feigner had a fastball
that was clocked at over 100 mph and a curveball
that could break a foot-and-a-half. He routinely struckout batters while pitching between his legs, behind his back, from second base
- even blindfolded!
During a two inning exhibition at Dodger Stadium
in 1967, Feigner faced, in order, future Hall of Famers Willie Mays
, Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson
, Maury Wills, Harmon Killebrew
and Roberto Clemente
- striking out all six!
In 2000, Sports Illustrated rated Feigner's team as America's 8th greatest team of the twentieth century. What? You've never heard of him or his team - The King and His Court? Maybe that's because Feigner didn't play baseball. He played fastpitch softball.
I'm a pipsqueak because I'm caught in a nothing game. It's like being a world-champion noseblower. - Eddie Feigner, 1972
Indisputably softball's greatest pitcher
, Eddie Feigner claims a record of 9,743 wins, 1,072 losses and 310 ties. With 930 no-hitters, 238 perfect game
s, 1,916 shutouts, and 132,070 strikeouts - 14,400 of them blindfolded
. In one stretch he won 187 consecutive games. What's even more remarkable is that Feigner's team played with only four players instead of the usual nine. The King and His Court were just a pitcher, a catcher
, a firstbaseman, and a shortstop.
Since 1946 The King and His Court have logged more than 4,000,000 miles, covering all 50 states and more than 100 international tours. The team has appeared at least once in 4,405 cities worldwide. In 2002, at the age of 76, Eddie Feigner was still barnstorming across America with softball's version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
I chose this life when I was 18, 19 years old and I love it. People enjoy watching me pitch. It's just like a singer. If someone likes to sing, they're happy to sing it over and over.
Feigner grew up an orphan in Walla Walla
, Washington. Given the name Myrle King by his adopted family, Feigner was a trouble-making child. He was thrown out of school in his early teens. He served in the United States Marine Corps
during World War II, but was given a medical discharge
after suffering a nervous breakdown.
Returning home to Washington, Feigner quickly began to make a name for himself (and a new one, at that) as a softball pitcher playing for "normal" 9-man teams. In 1946, after a 33-0 victory, he boasted to the losing team that he could have beat them with just four players. They took him up on the bet and sure enough Feigner beat them again, 7-0 this time. From that accidental beginning a legend was born. And in the 1960's, while those hall of famers were making $100,000 a year, the pipsqueak was making $100,000 per month.
Eddie Feigner has been inducted into the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame and, to honor everything he has given to the sport, Feigner was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Sydney Olympics.