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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

Joyce Thomas (Billy) (1994)

Joyce Thomas (Billy)(94)

It is rare when a gifted person is enshrined in two Halls of Fame in one year,

but that is what will happen today when Lewiston’'s Billy Joyce is inducted into the Maine Baseball HOF. Last April 8, Joyce was honored by selection to the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame.

In welcoming Billy Joyce, we are "signing on" another of Maine's premier catchers - a backstop with excellent credentials.

"Chick" Leahey, longtime Bates College coach and '82 HoFer, labeled Joyce “an excellent selection."

For four seasons, 1935-1939, Joyce was the starting catcher for the Lewiston H.S. team.

in 1935, he caught for the Blue Devils state champions and batted .577 his senior year.

in 1935 and 1936, he led the Lewiston American Legion team to the New England tournament.

He also played summer ball with Lewiston teams - the Rangers in the Heart of Maine league and the Buccaneers.

With the Buccaneers, he was managed by "Bucky" Gaudette (HOF '71) and formed a battery with his cousin, Portland's "Jabber" Joyce (HOF '75).

in 1941, while playing with the L&A Bakers, he was scouted by the Boston Bees' (later the Braves) Jeff Jones and signed to a Double-A contract with the Bradford, Pa., Bees. At the time of his signing, Joyce had committed only one error in 125 chances with the Bakers and had been credited with 20 assists in 17 games. Joyce became the starting catcher with the Bradford club.

However, World War Il intervened and Joyce found himself catching, and occasionally pitching, in the Panama Canal Zone League. Playing for the U.S. Army team at Cristobol, he was managed by Mickey Harris, a Red Sox pitcher.

Probably his connection with Harris led to a Red Sox offer but, instead, the Lewiston receiver opted to join the Detroit Tigers farm club, the Buffalo Bisons of the International League, for the 1946 season.

following the 1946 season - the year in which Billy married Valerie Ferguson, the sister of George Ferguson, Sr. and aunt of George, Jr., both HOF er's - he returned to the L-A area to again catch for the L-A Bakers. And he also joined the Lewiston Police Department.

rom 1946 to 1960, he was the player-manager for the Lewiston Police Team and also found time to devote countless hours to the Lewiston Police Athletic League for youth baseball and skating.

He served as a Lewiston police officer until 1971 and as a security guard for Northeast Banks until 1983.

Billy and Valerie are the parents of four children and grandparents of five.

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