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TODAY news for Thursday, September 1, 2005

Loma Linda University Children's Hospital news

The ‘king and his court’ to make royal visit

Mr. Feigner pitching
After pitching an amateur softball team to a 33-0 victory in 1946, Mr. Feigner was taunted by the losers. He retorted that he could beat them with nothing but a catcher and two other players to help with batting if they got on base.
Softball pitching great Eddie (the King) Feigner and his fast-pitch softball team, known as the “king and his court,” will perform in an exhibition softball game benefitting Loma Linda University Medical Center and Children’s Hospital services on Sunday, September 11, at 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Feigner’s team has been amazing fans and helping communities for more than 55 years, entertaining the crowd with such skills as pitches from the second base line, behind-the-back pickoff moves, and blindfolded pitches.

The five-inning game will take place at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino, located at 1135 East Highland Avenue. It will last about two hours.

Mr. Feigner’s four-player team has traveled to more than 80 countries. Some of his audiences have included Bob Hope, Elvis Presley,
King Eddie Feigner
King Eddie Feigner is on his 60th anniversary tour.
and Richard Nixon.

In 1967, Mr. Feigner showcased his pitching skill by striking out Major League Baseball stars Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson, Maury Wills, Harmon Killebrew, and Roberto Clemente in succession.

“It was a mismatch,” Mr. Feigner says. “A baseball batter has no concept of how to hit a fastball that rises like mine, or sliders and curves that break 18 inches.”

During his playing career, Mr. Feigner has logged 3.5 million miles, recorded more than 132,000 strikeouts, pitched in 10,000+ games, and pitched 238 perfect games, 1,916 shutouts, and 930 no-hitters for a total of 8,270 victories.

Mr. Feigner is listed by David Schoenfield, ESPN sports editor, as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers of all time along with Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Christy Mathewson, and Sandy Koufax.

Born in 1924 in Walla Walla, Washington, Mr. Feigner grew up as an orphan. When he joined the Marine Air Corps in the 1940s, they asked for his birth records, so he searched hospital records. He discovered that his birth mother lived very close to the home where he grew up. It turns out that, as a teenager who did odd jobs, he had unknowingly mowed his birth mother’s lawn.

So he called her. She invited him for dinner. And when Mr. Feigner arrived and sat at the table with her, he found dozens of platters filled with every variety of entree imaginable—banquet style—in front of him.

His mother said, “I was afraid I’d cook something for you you didn’t like.”

This still makes him smile. He remembers that when he left, his birth mother hugged him, like mothers do, and told him, “You can be anything you want to be, Eddie.”

Mr. Feigner became “the king.”

After pitching an amateur softball team to a 33-0 victory in 1946, Mr. Feigner was taunted by the losers. He retorted that he could beat them with nothing but a catcher and two other players to help with batting if they got

on base.

The challenge produced a game that he won 7-0, and gave concept to his team, “the King and His Court.”

During the 1950s, the team barnstormed throughout the United States offering anyone $50 who could hit a fair ball off the team and $10 just for hitting a foul ball.

In the 1960s, Mr. Feigner and his team grew in popularity that was boosted by appearances on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and other television shows.

During succeeding years,

the team traveled throughout small-town America playing in prison yards, pastures, rodeo grounds, racetracks, cemeteries, and stockyards.

“I remember once on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska where we showed up and it was 20 degrees and snowing. I thought the game would be called off, and they said, ‘No, there’s a crowd waiting.’ Sure enough, there were about 500 people in parkas so we played.”

The team has played teams in the demilitarized zone in Korea, and at the Great Wall of China. They have played in the Philippines, Australia, on an aircraft carrier, and on a big oil tower off the coast of Norway.

Mr. Feigner was featured as one of the 25 summer essentials to see in the July 11-18, 2005, issue of Sports Illustrated.

In the article by Adam Duerson, the author writes, “If you’re lucky enough, you still might get to witness 80-year-old Eddie (the king) Feigner on a night he feels up to tossing some classic heat. Blindfolded. From second base.

“For over 60 years, the king—perhaps the greatest fast-pitch softball pitcher ever—and his three-player court have taken the act across America.

“These days Feigner, who’s thrown 930 no-hitters, uses his pitching arm mostly for autographs while serving as emcee. ‘I’m an entertainer!’ the king barks. ‘I got a little bit of me from George Burns and Jackie Gleason. My show’s as fun as my game! Come see it!’”

Mr. Feigner’s pitch was clocked at 104 miles per hour from a pitching rubber that was then 38 feet from the plate. He was unhittable. If you try to calculate a hitter’s reaction time, that speed and distance is the equivalent of a Major League Baseball pitcher throwing at 166 miles per hour.

This will be the “king and his court’s” only appearance in Southern California, and perhaps one of the last times Mr. Feigner will make a public appearance with his “court.”

Tickets to this event are $5 and may be obtained at the Loma Linda University office of student affairs in the Student Services Center, or at Drayson Center.

Further information on the event may be obtained by calling (909) 558-7797.

_______________

Richard Weismeyer
rweismeyer@llu.edu
(909) 558-4526 or ext. 44526

TODAY news for Thursday, September 1, 2005