Meet the real king of strikeouts Feigner adds locals to list of 14,000 SOFTBALL

July 29, 1993|By Brian Fishman | Brian Fishman,Staff Writer

How hard can it be to hit an oversized softball, especially if the pitcher is blindfolded or pitching behind his back?

Just ask Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays or Roberto Clemente, all of whom are among 14,000 batters on Eddie Feigner's strikeout list. They'll tell you how confident they were until they figured out three strikes later that Feigner was every bit as tough a pitcher as Nolan Ryan or Sandy Koufax.

For 48 years, Feigner has been on the road entertaining more than 18 million people. He has been everywhere -- 98 countries, places as diverse as Saudi Arabia, the local VFW and the Hollywood studios. His team, called The King and His Court -- a group of four softball players who accept challenges from nine-man teams -- will go anywhere to provide laughs.

"No one will see a show like this on television because there isn't anything like it," Feigner said.

Feigner, 68, could command respect from anyone who has ever picked up a bat. Just recently, he watched Ted Williams being interviewed by Bob Costas. After mentioning some of the toughest pitchers he faced in his career, Williams said he was glad he never had to face Eddie Feigner.

This week Feigner and his mates, catcher Dave Booth, first baseman Gary West and shortstop Rich Hoppe, played games against the Ellicott City VFW -- they were beaten 7-3

by the Kings -- and at UMBC last night.

"We are here more or less to have fun," said UMBC third baseman Tina Armstrong.

The UMBC crowd of 300 saw Feigner deliver a perfect, behind-the-back pickoff throw to first to catch a runner. Meanwhile, Booth and West, the comedians among the foursome, hurled a number of jokes at the fans.

In his five decades, The King and His Court team has won 8,000 of 9,370 games. Feigner has pitched to 14,000 batters while blindfolded and struck out 7,550 of them, according to his records.

Through his unusual antics, Feigner has appeared many television shows, including "Truth or Consequences" with Bob Barker and "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," where he fired a softball and hit a cigar that Carson held between his teeth. In his most successful moment against major-leaguers in 1967, Feigner struck out Mays, Willie McCovey and Maury Wills in one inning, then came back and fanned Harmon Killebrew, Clemente and Brooks Robinson.

The Court began playing in 1946 and built an 86-game winning streak before losing to Eugene, Ore., pitcher Bo Willis.

Feigner calls Las Vegas home only because he spends most of his leisure time there. His traveling show keeps him on the road most of the year. Through last year, The King and His Court has logged more than 4 million miles and played in more than 4,240 cities worldwide. Once, he pitched 57 games in 31 days with no days off -- and won them all. And it is not uncommon for Feigner to donate the gate proceeds to a charitable cause.

A portion of the profits from last night's game went to the UMBC softball program for uniforms.

"Last week we played in Scottsville, Mich., I heard about a little boy up there who has a disease," Feigner said. "They've amputated both his legs and one of his hands. He probably only has a year or two until he'll die. I was told that he wants to go to Disney World so I made enough money so that he could have that experience. This is nothing like Jerry Lewis has done but if I can help someone, I will do it."

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