WBSC Softball Hall of Fame member Joan Joyce, 1974 Women’s Softball World Championship winner, passes away at 81

WBSC Softball Hall of Fame member Joan Joyce, 1974 Women’s Softball World Championship winner, passes away at 81
28/03/2022
Joyce won a gold medal with the U.S. National Team at the 1974 WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, posting a 5-0 record while pitching 36 scoreless innings, over which time she struck out 76 batters and hurled three no-hitters - two of which were perfect games.

The softball world mourns the loss of Joan Joyce, a legendary US softball player and coach who won the WBSC Women’s Softball World Cup in 1974. Joyce passed away on Saturday, 26 March, at 81.

Born in 1940, Joyce won a gold medal with the U.S. National Team at the 1974 WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, posting a 5-0 record while pitching 36 scoreless innings, over which time she struck out 76 batters and hurled three no-hitters - two of which were perfect games. 

She remained involved in softball at the top College level until her final days, serving as the head coach of Florida Atlantic University for 28 years.

In her playing days (she divided her ASA career, 1954-1975, between the Raybestos Brakettes and the Orange Lionettes), she was virtually unbeatable as a pitcher. She mastered the slingshot delivery, that Cannonball Baker taught her when she was 16, and her lifetime earned runs average is an astonishing 0.09. She has pitched 150 no hitters and 50 perfect games. In 1974 she collected an extraordinary 42 wins, 38 shut outs. But she was also a formidable hitter. In 1971 she had a batting average of .467.

She faced some of the best hitters in the history of baseball as well in exhibition games. She struck out Ted Williams in 1961 and Hank Aaron in 1978. The duel with Williams is legendary. It happened in August 1961 in front of 17,000 fans in Waterbury, Connecticut. Williams could only foul off three pitches. Then he threw the bat down and said: “I can’t hit this”.

“He fouled off a couple of pitches and never hit it in fair territory, so there’s not a lot to remember, but it was a great experience,” said Joyce in the WBSC history book The Game We Love. “That probably had the most to do with me becoming a recognizable name.”

In 1976 Joyce was a co-founder (together with golf player Janie Blaylock, tennis icon Billie Jean King and sports entrepreneurs Jim Jorgensen and Dennis Murphy) of the International Women's Professional Softball Association (IWPSA). Joyce was also coach and part owner of the Connecticut Falcons, one of the 10 teams.

One year later, Joyce also joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. As a golfer, she is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for lowest number of putts (17) in a single round (both men and women), set at the 1982 Lady Michelob tournament. Joyce also played on the United States National Basketball Team (1965) and competed in four National Volleyball Tournaments.

Joyce was inducted into the WBSC Softball Hall of Fame in 1999.