Sports icon and former LPGA player Joan Joyce died on Saturday. She was 81 years old.
Joyce is considered one of the best multi-sport athletes of the 20th century. She is primarily known for her softball dominance; in over two decades in the Amateur Softball Association, Joyce threw 150 hits and 50 perfect plays and possessed a .09 lifetime ERA. She was an eight-time MVP and made 18 consecutive All-Star teams and knocked out Major League Baseball legends Ted Williams (in 1961) and Hank Aaron (1978) in exhibitions.
“No matter where I go in this world, I always have people coming up to me and saying, ‘You knocked out Ted Williams,'” Joyce told The Associated Press in 2009. “It always happens.”
During her softball career, Joyce also played for the United States Women’s National Basketball Team in 1964 and 1965, highlighted by scoring a single-game record 67 points in a contest from 1964, and was a player and coach in the United States Volleyball Association for the Connecticut Mowers.
When her softball days ended, Joyce switched to golf in 1977 and played on the LPGA for 19 years. Although she has never won an official event, Joyce holds the LPGA record for fewest putts in an inning, needing just 17 shots on the greens while hiking at Lady Michelob in 1982.
Joyce later served as head coach of Florida Atlantic University’s softball (1995 until her death) and women’s golf (1996-2014) teams. Although Joyce was absent from the softball team that year due to a medical procedure, she was still credited with the team’s wins, and on March 18 earned the 1,000th win of her career. Joyce is one of 43 NCAA coaches across all sports to have reached the milestone.
Joyce was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and is a member of 20 different Halls of Fame.
“This is a terribly sad loss for the FAU family. Joan was a true legend in the sport, and we are grateful to her for the 28 years she spent here, modeling the best personal and professional behavior for our student-athletes” , FAU President John Kelly said in a statement. “Joan’s legacy will live on at the university and across the country through the generations of young women she inspired to play – and to excel – at softball and golf.