Tuesday, January 25, 2005
GRANDVIEW - There was a time when many followers of men's fastpitch softball made the argument that Dwayne Kamphuis had the deadliest arm in the country. Many fans argued Kamphuis' arm was better than that of legendary softball pitcher Eddie "The King" Feigner.
Regardless of who comes out on top of the argument, make no mistake, Kamphuis was one of the greatest to ever pick up a softball.
Kamphuis, who lives in Grandview, put on a pitching display this past Saturday morning at the Grandview Church of the Nazarene.
Kamphuis, 67, provided some history on softball. He said softball started being played in Chicago in the late 1800s.
Kamphuis said he started pitching in 1945. His family didn't have much money so he would use palmigranites growing on nearby trees with which to practice.
He started playing ball in California at a young age. At the age of 16, Kamphuis was inducted into the Junior Softball Hall of Fame.
In 1957, Kamphuis was inducted into the military service.
"It was during my time in the service I learned to throw this softball," he said while palming a ball.
After being discharged from the military, Kamphuis played softball at the class AAA level.
"In 1965, I think I had one of the greatest years I had as a softball pitcher," said Kamphuis.
Kamphuis threw two no-hitters and had an earned run average of 0.75.
His life changed in September 1966 when Feigner asked Kamphuis to join his royal court, a four-man team that traveled around the country playing softball.
Feigner, a native of Walla Walla, struck out some of the greatest baseball players of all-time, including Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays.
"The King," as Feigner was often referred to, found his royal court in 1946 in Portland, Ore. A fight broke out after a game Feigner pitched. He then stepped in the middle of the ruckus and said he would take three guys to form a team, said Nazarene Pastor Gary Schenck.
Kamphuis said the schedule was exhausting that Feigner and his court maintained.
Kamphuis and the rest of the court would play professional football teams like the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings in fund-raisers. Kamphuis also played with the court before 50,000 people in the Houston Astrodome.
Kamphuis retired in 1983.
"Along the way, I had the chance to play against a lot of great ball clubs," said Kamphuis.
Kamphuis said he knew it was time to retire when after a game against the Pan American softball champs he realized he hadn't recorded a strikeout in the game.