Joan Joyce

Joan Joyce
"I'm not an advocate of women's lib per se, I don't go out preaching it … I've done the things I wanted to do … and I didn't let anyone stop me … [O]ne thing, though—when I grew up my biggest idol was Mickey Mantle. Now kids can also look to the women who play."
- Joan Joyce, 1975 interview

Induction Category:
Sports

Born: 1940

Inducted: 2007

Town: Waterbury

Joan Joyce is an extraordinary athlete, leading multiple teams to national and international championships. She played competitive basketball and volleyball and qualified for the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour in 1977. However, softball was the sport in which she made her biggest mark, and Joyce is considered one of the best softball players ever to play the game. In addition to playing, throughout her career she has been a champion of women in sports, coaching various sports at many universities and co-founding the International Softball Association for women to compete on a professional level.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., in August 1940, Joyce joined the Raybestos Brakettes, an amateur softball team, at the age of 14. Three years later she began pitching, marking the first of 18 consecutive years in which she was selected as an Amateur Softball Association All-American. One of her most notable achievements is striking out Ted Williams at an over-crowded Municipal Stadium in Waterbury in 1961. She would do the same to Hank Aaron in a 1978 exhibition game.

Joyce attended Chapman College in Orange County, Calif., where she played for the Orange Lionettes and led them to a 1965 softball title. Again proving her astonishing athletic ability, she competed in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball, averaging 25 points a game, and was named an All-American in 1961, 1964 and 1965. In one notable 1965 game, she set an AAU basketball record by scoring 67 points.

In 1967, after moving back to Connecticut, Joan rejoined the Raybestos Brakettes, leading the team both as a pitcher and a hitter. Her pitching record while playing for the team was 753 wins and 42 losses, including 150 no-hitters, 33 perfect games, and a .09 ERA. As a hitter, her highest single-season batting average was .406 in 1973. Between 1960 and 1973, Joyce led the team with the highest batting average. She was the National Tournament Batting Champion in 1971, with an average of .467. 1974 brought a world title for the Brakettes when Joan set many records including most strikeouts (76). Less than a month after winning the world title, she pitched 45 scoreless innings in the national championship, leading the Brakettes to their fourth consecutive national title. The same year, Joyce was the first woman to become a recipient of the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance’s Gold Key Award and the first woman ever to be invited to the awards banquet. In 1977, Joyce qualified for the LGPA tour, finishing in sixth place both in 1981 and 1984. She holds the world record for the lowest number of putts in a single round of golf (17).

Joyce began her coaching career in 1973 and has coached softball, volleyball, basketball and golf. Since 1994, she has been the head coach of Florida Atlantic University’s women’s softball team, leading the Owls to 10 conference championships and seven NCAA tournaments.  She has received numerous coach-of-the-year awards and has been inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame, the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame and The Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Joyce was also inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.


During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice