BOCA RATON, Fla. — Florida Atlantic softball coach Joan Joyce, the only coach in the program’s 28-year history and whose numerous claims to fame included once striking out Ted Williams, has died, the school announced Sunday.
Joyce died Saturday, the school said without disclosing the cause. She was 81.
“Joan was a true sports legend, and we are grateful for the 28 years she spent here, modeling the best in personal and professional behavior for our student-athletes,” FAU president John Kelly said. “Joan’s legacy will live on at the university and across the country through the generations of young women she inspired to play — and excel at — softball and golf.”
Joyce was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. She spent 19 years as a member of the LPGA Tour — needing only 17 putts to get through a round in 1982 — and also served as FAU’s women’s golf coach from 1996 through 2014.
But the thing she was unquestionably asked most about in her life was the 1961 exhibition in Waterbury, Connecticut, in which she struck out Williams, the last MLB player to bat .400 in a season.
“No matter where I go in this world, I always have people coming up to me saying, ‘You struck out Ted Williams,'” Joyce said in 2009. “It always happens.”
Joyce was officially credited with her 1,000th softball win at FAU earlier this season, even though she has not been around the Owls since preseason. Joyce was away from the team this spring after undergoing a medical procedure, the school said. Associate head coach Chan Walker has been serving as coach.
Joyce’s career record was 1,002-674-1 at FAU. She led the Owls to 11 NCAA postseason tournaments and was honored as conference coach of the year eight times.