Jean Faut, arguably the top star player in the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, died on Tuesday at the age of 98, according to The Comeback.
The AAGPBL was formed during World War II as a way to continue to entertain Americans with professional baseball games while most men were away fighting the war, and later served as the inspiration for the classic Hollywood movie “A League of Their Own” about the all-women baseball league.
A legendary All-Star
Faut joined the AAGPBL in 1946 and initially played third base before becoming a star pitcher with a 1.23 career ERA, two perfect games, and two no-hitters. She was also a four-time All-Star and was twice honored as Player of the Year.
The two perfect games for Faut are exceptionally notable, as only five perfect games were ever pitched in the AAGPBL’s brief existence and she is the only professional baseball player, either male or female, to ever throw two perfect games in a career.
It is with a heavy heart to report that #AAGPBL star pitcher Jean Faut, passed away this morning. She was 98 years old. Jean was a 2x Player of the Year, 4x All-Star, and the only pro pitcher (either male or female) to toss two perfect games in a career. pic.twitter.com/A8W6iGJbZq
— AAGPBL Official (@AAGPBL) March 1, 2023
Learned to pitch from semi-pro ballplayers and throwing rocks
In 2015, Faut sat for an interview with Sports Illustrated at the age of 90 to reminisce about her legendary career in the short-lived AAGPBL which was only in existence from 1943 until 1954.
“My talent came from God and I loved the game,” Faut said. “And I just had a tremendous team behind me.”
Born and raised in East Greenville, Pennsylvania, Faut was always athletic and played a variety of sports but never participated in organized baseball until she joined the AAGPBL in 1946 at age 21.
She instead developed her throwing arm, and a devastating curveball, by slinging rocks at telephone poles as well as by hanging out at the stadium where the semi-professional East Greenville Cubs played in her hometown just a couple of miles from her home.
“I was always at their practices shagging fly balls and they realized I had a good arm, so they had me throw batting practice sometimes,” Faut recalled. “Some of the players taught me the pitches I used in the league.”
Career cut short by family matters
The SI interview further revealed that Faut got married after the 1946 season to a pitching prospect for the MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies and actually played part of the 1947 season while pregnant with her first of two sons, who was born in March before the start of the 1948 season.
“After games, I went home and cooked and cleaned for my family like a regular wife would have,” Faut said. “I had a woman hired to take care of my son when I was on the road with the team. But by the time he was three years old, he went with us on the bus, had his own uniform and stayed in the dugout with us during games.”
Unfortunately, her husband, Karl Winsch, was reportedly jealous of her success and soon sabotaged her career by becoming the manager of her South Bend Blue Sox team in 1951, which caused a rift in her relationships with fellow teammates and ultimately compelled her to quit playing after the 1953 season.
Nevertheless, Faut was a legendary star of the AAGPBL who was routinely honored and revered by former players and teammates at annual gatherings and was inducted along with the rest of the league into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a special exhibit in 1988.