ARTICLE OF THE DAY

A Hit Off The King
by Brian North
8/23/05

We all have special moments in our athletic careers that will last a lifetime. For some it's a moment in Little League, for others a game winning basket in junior high. Some are lucky to enough to play organized sports in high school and college and have even more prevalent memories.  To be a pro is the ultimate dream.

As I have grown older and grayer and balder, I have relished my great high school memories. Now most great athletic moments are witnessed, and I do take great joy in watching other people's accomplishments. But I still have that competitive fire, and I still dream about making "one more play." It's the weekend warrior mentality many of us can't seem to shake.

I got the chance this past weekend to make "one more play" when I was invited to Jacksonville to play on a softball team that would take on the legendary "King and his Court." If you have never heard of this barnstorming softball team, let me take a moment to give you a history lesson.

Eddie Feigner (better known as "The King") is considered the greatest softball pitcher of all time. His Court is made up of a catcher and two fielders. That means its four versus 10 in games. The King and his “Court” touring team has played in over 10,000 softball games in 100 countries since the late 1940’s and achieved widespread fame similar to that of the Harlem Globetrotters. They mix in comic relief along with astounding skills. Feigner reached legendary status in a hurry. According to his website, the King's fastpitch was once clocked at 104 mph. In a two-inning exhibition in 1967, he fanned Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Brooks Robinson, Maury Wills, Harmon Killebrew and Roberto Clemente.

He's nearing 80, but ‘The King’ still tours with his “Court.” He is the straight man on the sidelines. He doesn't pitch any more, but his protege Rich Hoppe has taken over and throws an astounding array of behind the back and between the leg pitches, along with pitching from as far back as second base. It is certainly a sight to see in person, and the prospect of trying to hit such nasty stuff is nerve wracking.

After watching almost everyone of my teammates strike out against the new King, I was able to muster a weak ground ball to the right side of the infield for a base hit. It will go down as one of the proudest moments of my life. Sure we lost the game by a lot, but the fun everyone had was well worth being embarrassed. But it's something I will always remember. As I get older, the memory of the hit will be of a crisp line drive, and I will always get to say, I got a hit off the King and his Court! Now if I could only play one on one with MJ.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com