The softball industry is recording fine stats these days, driven largely by company-sponsored teams.
Golf may get all the attention, but softball -- the sport of co-workers -- is thriving too. Shawn D. Madden, president of Seattle Sports Leagues Inc., says business increased 62% this year. Since half of the teams are sponsored by employers, Madden has added several new industry divisions this season.
As the sport grows, so does demand for new equipment -- distributors have sold out of Easton Sports' brand-new Synergy bat. The $299 model -- made of lightweight fibers and resins -- features a larger sweet spot than aluminum bats, according to Matt Arndt, director of softball products for the Van Nuys, Calif., manufacturer.
Perhaps the only softball entrepreneur who is struggling these days is Eddie Feigner, founder of the King and His Court. His four-man touring team, started in 1946, has traveled the world challenging any nine players for charity or profit. A stroke and knee replacement have slowed the 78-year-old, but His Majesty still knows the key to winning: finding and aiming for the gap between fielders. "Hit the ball where you want to," he says. "Just like golf."