There are heroes and then there are HEROES….and fast pitch softball pitcher Eddie “The King” Feigner is one of those HEROS….as anointed by the original Sportsphile back in 1957 in Midland, Texas…..and then re-confirmed as one of those HEROES in 1965 in Odessa, TX….when The King and His Court barnstormed throughout West Texas…..while playing the very best fast pitch softball teams that were ever assembled in this vast land filled with lots of teams and players.
Eddie “The King” Feigner was an American softball player for much of his early life….who then turned his attention to the sport full-time following an enlistment in the US Marine Corps. He first assembled his four-man team, known as “The King and His Court” in 1946 and took on all comers….first in the Pacific Northwest and then around the country…..as West Texas became an annual regular season destination for the greatest fast pitch pitcher to ever grace the mound…..as the team was known for performing tricks that entertained the audience….but also for beating the best fast pitch teams that West Texas had to offer with only 4 players as compared to the complete 9-player fast pitch team.
The King and His Court touring team played over ten thousand softball games in a hundred countries from the late 1940’s to the beginning of the 21st century…..while achieving widespread fame similar to that of the Harlem Globetrotters….as Feigner’s meticulous records claim 9,743 victories, 141,517 strikeouts, 930 no-hitters and 238 perfect games. The Washington Post described him as “the greatest softball pitcher who ever lived.” Despite his substantial record, Feigner said that while his team was known for taking on local softball teams and often winning by considerable margins…..the real intent of The King and His Court was to entertain audiences….and never to embarrass opposing players. “When a man steps up to the plate, we have nothing but respect for him,” he was noted for oft quoting.
In honor of his time in the Marine Corps, the King and His Court often played against military personnel, often at venues such as Army bases or the decks of aircraft carriers. They had also been known for donating considerable amounts of ticket profits to charity….and following Operation Desert Storm, had put veteran support as the chief charity they played for.
On February 18, 1967, Feigner appeared in a celebrity charity softball game against many Major League players….in which The King struck out Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Maury Wills, and Harmon Killebrew all in a row…..who also struck out Alan Chambers three times in a 1976 exhibition game.
Feigner retired from pitching after suffering a stroke in 2000 but continued to tour with his team, acting as emcee and telling stories while the team played. He is a member of the Baseball Reliquary “Shrine of the Eternals”. The team was satirized on a 2006 episode of the Fox sitcom King of the Hill entitled “You Gotta Believe (In Moderation)” by a team called The Ace of Diamonds and His Jewels.
The King and His Court was a four-man team: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, and shortstop….and when asked why the team had four members….and Feigner answered he had been told no team could take on his pitching….so he should reduce the roster to simply himself….and as The King accepted the dare and originally wanted a two-man team of himself and catcher….but increased it to three in case an opposing player got a hit….and then added a fourth player when he realized that if all three of his team were on base, no one would be up to bat.
All I can say about The King and His Court is that his incredible speed and accuracy while pitching from his knees in centerfield….along with his control and movement on the ball while pitching blindfolded from the mound….are tall tales of an incredible HERO whose talents are still revered around the sports desk at ImaSportsphile whenever Bone Daddy tells about the two time he saw Eddie Feigner, The King and His Court.