Greatest Athletes in CT History: Joan Joyce

Photo courtesy of Joan Joyce

As part of a new series recognizing the greatest athletes in Connecticut history, is highlighting those legends who haven’t gotten their due.

Waterbury’s own Joan Joyce is one of the greatest female athletes in Connecticut history, and maybe in U.S. history when you consider her absolutely incredible athletic accomplishments.

Famous for striking out Ted Williams at an exhibition event in Waterbury, Joyce was a ridiculous all-around athlete and undoubtedly one of the greatest softball players of all-time. The numbers speak for themselves: a 753-42 career record, 150 career no-hitters, 50 perfect games, a lifetime ERA of 0.09 and a batting average of .324.

Her greatest moment came at Municipal Stadium in 1961, when Williams and Joyce came together for an exhibition to raise money for charity.

Joyce was playing for the national champion Raybestos Brakettes in Stratford at the time. Williams had just retired from baseball but was running camps in Massachusetts and decided to come to Waterbury for the exhibition. The two faced each other in what was billed as the battle of the best. But Joyce  struck out the Splendid Splinter—repeatedly.

He couldn’t touch her riseball, her curve, or her dropball. He swung and missed time after time.

When it was all over, Williams called her “the toughest pitcher I ever faced.”

But it wasn’t just softball that Joyce excelled in. She wasn’t half-bad in basketball either, setting a single-game scoring record for the U.S. national team by pouring in 67 points. That record still stands.

If all that weren’t enough, Joyce also played 19 years on the LPGA Tour, setting a world record for the fewest amount of putts in a single round (17), and played professional volleyball with the Connecticut Clippers.

Now that’s an athlete.

She is the Babe Didrickson-Zaharias of Connecticut, and unfortunately, not many people know about her.

Here’s hoping that changes.

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