By: Madison Feldhahn

Forty-one years ago, after making his way to Kansas City, Earl Turnure began teaching his daughter Stacey how to play softball. It started as a fun thing between father and daughter, but Earl quickly realized Stacey and her friends were good at softball. So, he created a team for them. Today, it is one of the most prominent clubs in the Kansas City metro area.

“He said, ‘Well, let’s see how good they can be,’. He took us and created a little competitive team,” said Stacey Moore. “There weren’t many of those around, so we had to play teams that were much older than we were.”

This competitive team of Stacey and her friends became the Originals, the first competitive fastpitch team on the Missouri side of Kansas City. At just 12, the Originals team had to play older girls and travel to Kansas to play in a competitive league.

Earl quickly realized his new team needed a pitcher and began teaching Stacey. The popular pitching style at the time was the slingshot. But Earl, who played fastpitch softball, only knew the windmill pitch. So that’s what he taught Stacey.

“People on, at least, the Missouri side had never seen that [pitching style] before, and so they thought it was illegal,” Moore recalled. “They were yelling at us because we were cheating, and we were awful people because we had this cheating mechanism that we were using in the game.”

Quickly, Earl realized there was one way he could improve the game – teaching people how to pitch.

Every Saturday, Earl set up shop at Fort Osage High School. From 8 am to 6 pm, he gave lessons. Anyone who wanted to learn how to pitch just had to show up. Over the years, there were some girls who excelled at pitching, and also some who learned pitching wasn’t quite for them. The player’s skill level didn’t matter to Earl, as long as they put in their best effort.

Soon, the pitching lessons weren’t enough. About twenty years ago, several people approached Earl wanting to become a part of the Originals organization. Without much fuss, he let them.

“It really was not a big deal to him. We had two teams, and then two teams before four, and four teams became one at every age division,” Moore said. “People were like, ‘Well, I want to be a part of this. We want to be a part of them.’ So, it continued to grow.”

As the Originals expanded, Earl kept his sights focused. He wanted every girl who came through the Originals organization to learn and to be given the coach’s best.

“As long as the girls are learning, as long as the girls are having fun, and as long as you are being good sports about it, and you’re teaching good sportsmanship, that’s what I want,” Moore said of her father. “He said, ‘I don’t care if they go on to play in college. I just want them to get the best from us that we have to offer them.’”

In all his years, Earl never took a cent for the coaching he did. This is something that has carried on to this day. Every coach in the Originals organization has always been – and will always be – a volunteer. Earl did it for the love of the game, and that passion has been passed on through the Originals.

“He liked to see girls be challenged. He thrived on them doing better than they ever thought they could,” said Moore.

Earl was a big believer that there is a place for everyone who loves the game. Whether it was Division 1 or NAIA, there was a right fit for his players. He gave the girls everything he could offer to help them find their perfect fit and didn’t ask for anything in return.

Above all, Earl wanted his players to enjoy themselves.

“His motto was as long as you’re having fun, the game will take care of itself,” Moore said. “In his mind, girls did not perform well when there was a tremendous amount of pressure on them. He just wanted it to be fun and to have a good time and that’s what it was. It was very fun and carefree and, at the same time, very competitive.”

When asked about her father’s proudest accomplishments, Stacey cited the growth of fastpitch softball in Kansas City. The Originals are now one of many clubs – something she says is proof to her father that he did something right. The publicity around Kansas City softball is something he would also take immense pride in.

“But at the same time, this was never about him,” Moore said. “This was always about the girls. So long as the girls are the ones who continue to reap those benefits, I think he would be more than proud to be a part of anything that puts the girls first.”

Stacey fondly reflected on the love her father had for the game and for his athletes. He would remind his girls it was just a game at the end of a tough day. And he was always there excited to celebrate the end of a good one.

“I cannot forget the smile on his face when he saw his girls excelling and just doing well or mastering a pitch that they struggled with. He would just giggle, and that smile is forever imprinted on my heart. It is his legacy. His smile. His little spot at Adair Park where everybody would come and talk to him. That’s his legacy,” Moore said. “Just being there, supporting anybody who wanted to improve their game. That’s his legacy.”

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