Joan Joyce, the famous softball pitcher from Waterbury who threw 150 hits and 50 perfect plays during her legendary career, died on Saturday. She was 81 years old.

His death was announced sunday by Florida Atlantic University, the school where she had coached softball since 1995 and previously worked as a women’s golf coach.

Joyce pitched for the Raybestos Brakettes for 17 seasons, starting her career at just 14 years old. She went 429-27 with 5,677 strikeouts in 3,397 innings. She had 105 hits and 33 perfect games.

In addition to her career as a softball player, Joyce enjoyed success in volleyball and basketball. She was also a professional golfer for nearly 20 years and holds the record for the fewest putts in a PGA or LPGA round with 17, according to Guinness World Records. With a group that included Billie Jean King, Joyce founded the Women’s Professional Softball League, which lasted four years; during those four years, the team she co-owned and coached won the championship every year.

“In my opinion, Joan Joyce was the greatest female athlete of all time,” said current Stratford Brakettes general manager Bob Baird. “Joan was a much better person than she has ever been an athlete and she was one hell of an athlete. She was always polite, always friendly, always remembered your name.

Her athletic accomplishments have earned her a place in nearly two dozen sports-related halls of fame, including the National Softball Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Two of his most famous strikeouts came in exhibitions against two members of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame: Ted Williams – at Waterbury Municipal Stadium – and Hank Aaron. From many halls of fame Joyce was inducted into the National Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1983 and the New England Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.


John Stratton, the Brakettes’ longtime manager and former Florida Atlantic assistant coach under Joyce, had been friends with Joyce since the 1950s, first meeting when the two were learning to pitch.

“She was a special athlete. She dominated softball for 24 years,” Stratton said. “She always took time, I don’t care who it was, she would sit and (talk) with that person. during one hour. She was always good with her kids (softball), anything she could do to help them. She had a very positive attitude about everything.

Joyce recently won her 1,000th softball game at Florida Atlantic, becoming the 27th Division I coach to accomplish the feat. In his 28th season, Joyce finished with a career high of 1,002-674-1.

“Joan was a true sports legend, and we are grateful for the 28 years she spent here, modeling the very best personal and professional behavior for our student-athletes,” Florida Atlantic President John Kelly said in a statement. the statement issued by the university. “Joan’s legacy will live on in college and across the country through the generations of young women she inspired to play – and excel in – softball and golf.

Joyce was in Connecticut last June for the 4th Annual Brakettes/Joan Joyce Pitch and Putt Golf Tournament held at the Par-3 Short Beach Golf Course in Stratford. In softball, golf, anything, Joyce was always competitive and hated to lose.

“Ask Johnny (Stratton), play cards with me and I don’t like (losing),” Joyce told Hearst Connecticut Media at the time. “I’m not a bad loser either. I just know you won’t do it again. It must be innate, I don’t know, I didn’t like anyone beating me at anything.

Baird said the tournament will be renamed the Joan Joyce Memorial “Pitch and Putt” Golf Tournament and will be held on June 25.

Joyce was named an ASA All-American 18 times and was part of 12 teams that won the national fastball championship. She also played for the Orange Lionettes (California) and the Connecticut Falcons, a franchise she co-owned in the International Women’s Professional Softball Association.

Joyce was also Florida Atlantic’s women’s golf coach from 1996 to 2014 and played 19 years on the LPGA.

According to the Florida Atlantic websiteJoyce is survived by her sister Janis, her brother Joe and two great-nieces and great-nephews each. According to Brakettes.comJoyce died on the same date as her father, Joe, in 2013.

Michael Fornabaio contributed to this story.