Former Bulldog Doug Joyce makes baseball dreams a reality in the minors

Doug Joyce
Doug Joyce, senior sports management major, runs for first base during an April 30, 2012, game against the Bulldogs of Cumberland University at Fesmire Field. | Photo by Jacob Moore

For most athletes, college is the end of the road for their athletic career — they either get drafted or they are done.

A highly prominent website for high school baseball players and their families, High School Baseball Web, allows them to access information regarding upcoming showcases and offers recruiting tips.

The website states that only 5.6 percent of high school baseball players will have the chance to play at the collegiate level,  and only 10 perfect of collegiate player will be drafted.

However, that does not mean they will actually play in the majors.

Of  course, like everything else, there always are exceptions to every rule, and former Union baseball player Doug Joyce is the exception.

“I’ve been a one-sport kid my whole life, and baseball was that sport,” said Joyce, a native of Stanwood, Wash., and avid baseball player since he was 5 years old.

In high school, Joyce played on varsity all four years, earning a starting catching position three out of the four years.

He was named player of the year by the Skagit Valley Herald, and named to the Seattle Times All-Area Team.

“My senior year in high school was the best because once I started hitting, scouts were talking to me like crazy,” said Joyce.

However, Joyce decided to pursue a college degree in sports management with an emphasis in marketing.

His first two years of college were spent at Florida International University in Miami, Fla., where he was a catcher for the school’s baseball team. After two years, Joyce decided he wanted a change and parted from FIU and the baseball team.

That summer he started playing for the Nashville Outlaws in the prospect league and was named an All-Star player in that league.

The prospect league is a summer league made up of college players nationwide.

To participate, players must have National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility remaining.

During this time Joyce began looking for schools at which he would not have to sit out a year due to his status as a transfer student. He got in touch with Union’s Head Coach Brent Fronabarger, who made Joyce an offer that could not be turned down.

Joyce joined the Bulldogs in 2012 and had a successful career during his time at Union.

“Obviously for him to still be playing after college and getting paid, he’s just a great player,” said Fronabarger. “The thing about Doug is that he just loves the game. You can’t have enough of those guys who just love to play, and want to play … to still be playing, you have to want it, you have to love it and he does.”

During his career as catcher for Union, Joyce hit .314 with 5 home runs and 31 runs batted in; he also helped lead the team to a TranSouth tournament title and a third straight trip to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship opening round.

He also was named first-team all-conference two years in a row, was a TranSouth Scholar Athlete and was named to the TranSouth Gold Glove team.

Fronabarger, always knew that Joyce would be successful.

“He was the guy who put in so much extra time up here at the field house, outside of when he had to be here,” said Fronabarger. “He always put in extra work hitting, working on his catching … you always knew he would be successful because it [baseball] meant so much to him.”

Joyce helped lead the Bulldogs to win conference championships in 2011 and 2012, and he was named pre-season NAIA All-American in 2012.

“I really enjoyed playing with the group of guys and going as far as we did the two years while I was at Union, and I really enjoyed the coaching staff we had, too” said Joyce.

After graduating from Union, Joyce said he knew he was not ready to put his glove down. He always wanted to pursue a career in either minor or major league baseball.

He knew what he wanted and began sending e-mails to minor league teams.

Finally, the owner, general manager and manager of the Windy City Thunderbolts out of Crestwood, Ill., contacted Joyce, and they discussed him playing for them for the 2014 season.

The Thunderbolts are a minor league team in the Frontier League—which is not associated with major league organizations. It is considered an independent league, but major league teams may sign players from the Frontier League.

“I didn’t really have to think about it all that long,” said Joyce. “I knew I just wanted to keep playing and this was my opportunity to do that.”

They sent him a contract, and he signed with the Thunderbolts for one year.

“I think once he gets there, he’ll have every opportunity to succeed,” added Fronabarger. “He’s just so good at various things … he can [also] play first a little bit and he’s a good designated hitter. He’s just a all around solid player.”

Joyce will begin spring training with the Thunderbolts May 1.

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream