Sweets host entertainment troupe's finale

Entertainment group The King and His Court was founded in Walla Walla by Eddie Feigner in the 1940s.

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WALLA WALLA - What began on a dare 65 years ago will come full-circle to the city where the legend started when The King and His Court, founded by the late Eddie Feigner, a Walla Walla native, plays its final game Aug. 27 at Borleske Stadium.

"We are privileged to be in a position to host this event," said Walla Walla Sweets general manager Zachary Fraser.

The Sweets play at Borleske Stadium.

"There are precious few times in sports that you can have the symmetry of ending something this historic in the same place that it began," Fraser said. "It will be a fitting finale to the career of the greatest on-field entertainment troupe to ever grace a diamond.

"This will be a memorable show, and we are excited to provide a venue that will recognize the contributions made by Feigner and the players of the Court," he said. "This is their last-ever game, and it is perfect that Walla Walla will be the host."

It started with a bar bet in Pendleton. Pitching for Kilburg's Grocery, Feigner pitched his team to a victory over a team from Pendleton in a Walla Walla fastpitch softball league.

Later, at a tavern in Pendleton, the Pendleton manager was making comments about Feigner and his team, when Feigner whipped back a reply challenging the team to a game - with just Feigner and his catcher. Realizing he would need four players for offense, he brought along an infielder and a first baseman.

Using the Washington State Penitentiary as practice grounds, the four-man team prepared for the game, and won 7-0. Feigner pitched a perfect game, with only two batters putting wood on the ball.

With that auspicious start in the shadows of the Blue Mountains in Walla Walla, the King and His Court was born.

The group went on to become what many believed to be the greatest show on dirt. They logged over 3.5 million travel miles, with Feigner recording more than 141,000 strikeouts, 238 perfect games, 930 no-hitters, and recording over 8,000 victories before suffering a stroke in 2000.

The true value of these numbers was the fact that, unlike the Harlem Globetrotters of basketball (who the King and His Court are often compared to), the Court didn't play against the Washington Generals - teams routinely attempted to beat the four-man gang. They also made names for themselves by playing in such memorable venues as old Yankee Stadium, the Great Wall of China and Dodger Stadium (where Feigner struck out six future baseball Hall of Famers).

Feigner died in 2007, and the remaining members of the Court, now led by right-handed pitcher Rich Hoppe, continued the touring tradition. The 2011 season - the 65th - is the last.

The finale for the team that started across Route 12 at the Washington State Penitentiary will bookend their history at the 85-year-old Borleske Stadium. The historic facility, at one time the minor league home to Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Ozzie Smith, has been renovated over the past two seasons by a partnership between the Walla Walla Sweets and the Borleske Stadium Association.

Tickets for the event go on sale at 9:30 a.m. July 1 at the Sweets Shoppe downtown, or online at www.wallawallasweets.com.

Sweets season ticket holders will have an exclusive pre-sale opportunity to buy their seats before the general public starting Monday.

A portion of the ticket sales for the event will be donated to four groups that work to develop athletic opportunities for the youth of Walla Walla - Walla Walla City Parks and Recreation, Walla Walla Pacific and Valley Little Leagues, and Walla Walla Valley Youth Baseball and Softball.

Tickets will be $11 for General Admission ($8 for children 12 and under), $13 for Reserved, $15 for Premier and $17 for Diamond Club seats. Group opportunities, including use of the Sweet Spot presented by Key Technology, are available by calling 509-522-2255.

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