explored the side roads of America, but as a star entertainer he has also been
in the bright lights and counts Joe Namath, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell and
Frank Sinatra among his friends. Tom Lasorda should be so lucky. Stofflet has
always played his softball down the middle of the road. No peaks or valleys,
like Feigner. From church league to International Softball Congress to ASA,
Stofflet's game has always been sanctioned, always structured. No blindfolds.
No bunnies in the hat. Feigner fashions himself as the messiah; Stofflet is the
prophet of purism.
The two have met
twice, and Stofflet came out on top both times. In Feigner's behalf it must be
said that what he and his Court—the catcher and the two fielders who back him
up—play are exhibitions; entertainment, not victory, is their business. In
fact, Feigner contends that his team would never lose if the players' contracts
stipulated they had to win to get paid. On the other hand, Stofflet or any of a
number of outstanding fast-pitchers might do as well as Feigner with only three
men behind them. Even against the best batters, Stofflet strikes out about two
of every three. If he could induce even a portion of the remaining one-third to
hit to one of three fielders, he wouldn't get into too much trouble. And having
only four batters to send up to the plate can be an advantage, especially if
the hitters are as good as the ones in the King's Court.
Like most purists,
Stofflet grudgingly gives Feigner his due only as a magician. "What
impressed me the first time I saw him was the trick pitching," Stofflet
says. "Nobody can do the stuff he can, blindfolded, between his legs. His
regular pitches I had. But not the other stuff."
Stofflet is quick to note that he wouldn't want the other stuff. He says, as do
many others, that Feigner's bag of tricks wouldn't necessarily make the King a
world-class pitcher in organized softball, because some of his deliveries are
illegal. Dudley says, "I saw Feigner pitch a long time ago in the national
ISC tournament. My personal opinion is that in a regular situation he would be
a very good pitcher, but not in the class of Ty and some of the
All this, of
course, is disputed by Feigner, who says that his fastball was once clocked at
104 mph, the same as Stofflet's, and that his changeup is "the best there
ever was," and that he has a windmill with quarter-speed outraise pitch
that Ty Cobb incarnate wouldn't get a piece of. It's too late to determine now
who is right, because Feigner is well beyond his prime and has pitched too
infrequently against regulation competition for any clear judgment to be
When the subject
of Feigner as an individual is brought up, Stofflet asks that the tape recorder
be shut off. To make a short story shorter, the two men's relationship is less
than amicable, because Stofflet feels Feigner snubbed him by refusing to shake
hands after the games in which they pitched against each other. But one thing
is certain: upon his retirement from organized ball, there will be no Ty
Stofflet Traveling Road Show.
"I just can't
see living out of a suitcase," says Stofflet. "Maybe if Feigner
would've asked me earlier, I would've gone, but I was married, with
responsibilities, when he did. I got married when I was 22, and I was never the
kind of guy to be running here and there."
to tour also means he won't have made a cent from his softball talents when he
hangs up his glove. His is the tale of an athlete who chose to excel in a minor
sport; he comes away with nothing but a reputation—and the reputation doesn't
extend much beyond his sport's insiders. The King and His Court, on the other
hand, have grossed as much as $500,000 a year, providing a pretty good living
for Feigner and the other members of the Court, who work about six tough months
Of course, most
people don't believe Stofflet isn't paid; he could stand on the mound on a
stack of Gideons and proclaim it, but he wouldn't be believed. By now, it's old
stuff to him.
"I wish you
wouldn't even put it in there," says Stofflet, "because everybody will
just think you're making it up, know what I mean? I'm tired of the subject.
There's no money to be made in softball, and that's all there is to it.