- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"I became an individual person after that," says Feigner. "I changed my name that very week. I became Eddie Feigner—from Eddie Colts and Naomi Feigner. Being Myrle King was a disgraceful, sleazy existence to me, and I wanted it over. I loved Mrs. King, but I was so sick of life as her son. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't have moved in with my real mother. I would have gone back to see Mrs. King more. She started to die right then. I think I broke her heart."
Not long after the reunion between mother and son the wondrous four-man team started—on a dare. Back in 1946, pitching for Kilburg's Grocery in the Green Pea League of the Walla Walla valley, Feigner had defeated a team from Pendleton, Ore. 33-0. Later at a tavern the Pendleton manager dropped a snide remark Feigner's way. The King whirled and replied, "You're so pitiful, I could lick you with my catcher."
"Put up or shut up," said the manager.
"I'll need four guys on my side to bat," said Feigner, "and you'll be sorry."
Boing. Boing. The game was on. Feigner selected three players, all Seventh Day Adventists he had known since the fourth grade, including Kinzer, the catcher, and they repaired to the state prison for practice against a nine-man contingent of convicts. There, against a backdrop of high walls and barbed wire, The King and His Court was born.
Playing along easily against the inmates that first time, one of the Court said to Feigner, "Hey, King, they don't hit you very much." Against Pendleton they didn't hit him at all. The King pitched a perfect game, struck out every batter except two ("one pulled a sneak bunt," he says, "and another hit a dink grounder to the first baseman"), and the four men won 7-0. News of Feigner's feat spread across the Blue Mountains, and soon came challenges from every town and city in the state. Originally the team would play only a two-inning exhibition prior to regular games, but then more and more people showed up to see the gimmick. During the next four years the Court went on to play nearly 250 games, never farther east than Idaho. Then, in 1950, Feigner and the rest found themselves jobless; they decided to go on a cross-country tour.
They sent out over 3,000 letters to service organizations, charity groups, local governments and anybody they could think of who might sponsor a game. The results were disastrous—only a couple of replies from Florida. The team took off for the Deep South anyway, sleeping and eating in their station wagon. When they got as far as El Paso they discovered the Amateur Softball Association had barred all of its members from playing the Court. That meant all teams. Still, in places like Prescott, Ariz. and Biloxi, Miss. Feigner was able to pick up games after jumping out of the wagon and showing the promoters his pitching in the street.
"Four men? You nuts!" ridiculed the local doubters.
"Watch this," said The King, uncorking his whirligig.
"Damn! You on!" concluded everybody.