Softball/FAST PITCH SOFTBALL SPEED
BretMan wrote at 2010-03-21 16:00:37
That Eddie Feigner could throw the ball 103 m.p.h. has been reported and passed down through the years almost like it was a legend. My gut instinct is that it probably is more "legend" than "fact".
While Eddie was, without a doubt, one of the greatest fastpitch softball pitchers of all time, he was also the consummate showman, given to grandiose statements and known to embellish a tall tale. Unfortunately, Mr. Feigner passed away a few years ago, taking with him the true secret behind his legendary fastball.
Even that 103 m.p.h. figure is suspect. A quick Google search will turn up tons of information about Eddie (The King) and his barnstorming softball team (His Court). One story lists his top speed as 104 m.p.h. and there are even accounts of him reaching 114 m.p.h. This is the stuff of legends!
Beyond the legend, I don't think that his reported pitch speed holds up to examination. Here are a few reasons why:
- These estimates were made several decades before the advent of modern radar guns. The methods for estimating pitch speeds in those days were suspect, at best.
- I currently play and umpire men's fastpitch softball. This gives me a chance to personally observe some of the best pitchers in the state and region. Even the very best today are nowhere near those outlandish speeds.
Using modern radar guns, one of the best pitchers in my state has been clocked around 75 m.p.h. My understanding is that the most elite pitchers in the world can reach about 80 m.p.h. (but I have no first hand observation of that).
I find it hard to believe that one single pitcher could be so far out of the normal range of human performance. Even if Eddie was faster that the current world's best, could he really have been 25% faster? With modern training techniques, wouldn't the best in the world be approaching 100 m.p.h.? The fact is, they are not.
This is like having a single human capable of running the 100 meter dash in seven seconds or a Major League pitcher throwing the ball 125 m.p.h. The human body is capable of generating only so much mechanical force. It's hard to imagine that one single person in all of time could be capable of performing that far outside the norm, or that much better than the top athletes of a sport.
- A baseball pitcher throwing the ball 75 m.p.h. from 60 feet away is probably going to get lit up pretty bad. It's a different story in softball, where the pitcher is only about 2/3 that distance from the plate. Roughly, a softball pitched at 60 m.p.h. from 40 feet away will give a batter the same reaction time as for a baseball pitched 90 m.p.h. from 60 feet.
It's possible that the 103 m.p.h. speed was reported as the "equivilant" of a pitched baseball, with respect to the time it takes the pitch to reach the plate and the reaction time a batter would have. If that were the case, Feigner's reported speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h. would convert to the same exact speeds that the top softball pitchers reach today, right in the 70-80 m.p.h. range.
So, do you win your bet? Legend has it that Eddie Feigner could throw the ball at least 103 m.p.h. But this figure is no more proof of fact than are the tales of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree or Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. To me, the numbers just don't add up.
lars wrote at 2012-11-16 23:48:14
I've read various articles on the speed of these old time fast pitch softball pitchers, having been clocked by cameras shooting 50 frames per second. One newspaper article I read as a teenager said that Feigner had been clocked at 108 MPH. Guinness 1986 book of world records makes claim of Joan Joyce throwing at 116 MPH.
radar wrote at 2013-03-08 21:27:47
We don't know for sure if 100 mph can be reached now or then it is being debated. But stick to facts today Adam Folkard has been clocked at 89 mph. I have seen three articles the posted 100 mph Ty Stofflet Sports Illistrated 1979 104.7 Joe Lynch 105mph. Both faster then Feigner. I do agree Eddie Feigner was a great showman but never pitched better then .500 won loss in open nationals before he toured.