Faut, Jean (1925—)
Faut, Jean (1925—)
American baseball player who pitched two perfect games in 1951 and 1953 for the South Bend Blue Sox. Born January 17, 1925, in East Greenville, Pennsylvania; married Karl Winsch (a baseball player, later manager of South Bend Blue Sox), in 1947; children: at least one.
Jean Faut of the South Bend Blue Sox distinguished herself by pitching two perfect games in the All-American Girls Baseball League (1943–54), the first and only women's professional baseball organization. Playing during the seven-year period of overhand pitching, Faut was known for the control and variety of her pitches. "She put them all just where she wanted," said the league's leading hitter, Dottie Kamenshek , of the Rockford Peaches. "Pitching overhand was never foreign to the Blue Sox ace. She grew up playing hardball, and when the league switched to overhand, Jean was like a fish in water, moving effortlessly through the environment."
Born in East Greenville, Pennsylvania, the young Jean Faut lived a few blocks from the practice field of a semipro baseball team and learned how to pitch from some of the players. While still in high school, she pitched several exhibition games for the semipro Buck-Montgomery League. In 1946, she was spotted by a scout and offered a chance to attend the All-American Girls Baseball League's sprint training camp in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she was picked up by the South Bend Blue Sox. Because of her strong arm, she started at third base but did some pitching late in her rookie season. Faut did not like sidearm pitching and was relieved when the league switched to overhand in 1948. At the end of her first year, she married Karl Winsch, a player who left his pitching position with the Philadelphia Phillies due to injury. In her second year, pregnant with her first child, Faut pitched 44 games to post a 19–13 record. After the baby's birth in March 1948, she regained her strength and matured as a player. In 1949, she started 34 games and finished the season with a 24–8 record and a 1.10 ERA.
In addition to a remarkable repertoire of pitches, Faut also had phenomenal mental control. "Part of my success was that in my mind I could record the pitches and the order of pitches I threw to each girl, so they never saw the same thing twice," she recalled. "I was a mathematical whiz in school. They'd never know what was coming, so they'd start guessing. When batters start guessing, they're never right."
On July 21, 1951, Faut made history by pitching a perfect game against the Rockford Peaches, retiring 27 batters in a row. Kamenshek struck out twice. "It was the best game I've ever seen pitched," she said later. "It was just perfect. Overpowering." The next morning's South Bend Tribune reported: "Jean Faut, a sturdy gal with a lot of heart, a fast ball that hops, and a curve that breaks off like a country road, pitched a perfect no-hit, no run game to subdue the Rockford Peaches 2–0." Faut ended the season with a 15–7 pitching record and was chosen Player of the Year. Her second perfect game was played in 1953, against the Kalamazoo Lassies. Again elected Player of the Year, she was only the second person in league history to receive the award twice (the other was Doris Sams ).
Marriage and motherhood made Faut something of a loner; she didn't room with other players or take part in pregame and postgame activities. In 1951, when her husband became manager of the South Bend Blue Sox, it created problems for the hurler, who found that neither her teammates nor her husband would openly communicate with her. She retired from baseball at the end of the 1953 season, citing that it was just too difficult being married to the manager. She left with impressive career statistics—140 wins and 64 losses, and a 1.23 ERA, of which she is most proud because "that's the most important statistic of a pitcher." Miserable because she wasn't playing, Faut took up bowling and became so skilled at the sport that she turned pro in 1960, retaining that status until 1988. Her highest game was a 299, just short of perfect.
Gregorich, Barbara. Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1993.
Macy, Sue. A Whole New Game. NY: Henry Holt, 1993.
Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts