Edgar Renteria stood at first base that night last summer, waiting for the pinch runner to take his place. He turned to Ken Joyce, the Fresno Grizzlies’ hitting coach and an old friend.

“You’re done with us. You’re going back up,” said Joyce to the veteran San Francisco Giants shortstop, who was rehabbing yet another injury with San Francisco’s Triple-A farm team. Renteria hugged Joyce before he ran off the field.

“Thank me in October,” Joyce remembers saying. “Go win another World Series ring.”

Joyce told that story about six hours before Renteria stepped to the plate in Monday’s scoreless Game 5 of the World Series. You can imagine the scene in the Joyce house in Portland when Renteria sent a Cliff Lee pitch over the wall for the three-run homer that won the game and the World Series.

“We were jumping around quite a bit,” said Joyce. “It was loud for a few minutes.”

Someone pinch Joyce and tell him he’s not living a dream. He played baseball at Deering High and the University of Southern Maine, and showed up at Hadlock Field when the Sea Dogs, a Florida Marlins affiliate, first came to Portland about 15 years ago.

Got a job for me? Don’t worry about pay.

Joyce’s calling was to coach baseball. He wanted to further his education, so to speak. He worked in the Sea Dogs’ bullpen. Within a year he was signed as the hitting coach. One of his pupils was Renteria.

Joyce had set a record with seven hits in eight at-bats against Concordia College in a regional postseason tournament. The mystery of hitting a blazing or curving baseball seemed natural to him.

He got his first World Series ring as part of the Marlins’ organization when Renteria drove in the run that beat Cleveland in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

Now he’ll get a second ring in the spring, which is fortunate.

After hearing that her 11-year-old brother, Tommy, will someday get the 1997 ring, his 9-year-old daughter, Jill, wanted one of her own. Thanks, Edgar.

Joyce moved to the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization in 2002. He was a minor-league manager and a hitting coach until he was let go after the 2009 season.

Last winter he saw a message on his Facebook page posted by Hensley (Bam Bam) Muelens, the former Yankees outfielder and a new friend.

Muelens had been promoted to hitting coach of the Giants, leaving an opening in Fresno. Muelens was pitching Joyce’s name. Was he interested in the job? Joyce was.

Joyce worked with Buster Posey before the Giants called up the catcher who is compared to Johnny Bench.

He sat in the Fresno dugout and watched Madison Bumgarner pitch.

Even more, he got to pick Willie Mays’ brain about hitting. He met others in the Giants’ family: Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Jim Davenport, Gaylord Perry, J.T. Snow, Will Clark.

“This was the first organization I’ve been involved with that has a history,” said Joyce. Florida and Toronto were expansion franchises. The New York Giants were there from the earliest days of major-league baseball.

As part of the Giants’ family, Joyce watched them march through the playoffs.

The team offered their minor-league coaches and scouts two tickets each to World Series Games 1 and 2 played in San Francisco. Joyce checked with his wife, Janet, a first-grade teacher at Cathedral School in Portland. They decided Tommy would travel west with his father.

Their seats were in the upper deck, behind third base. It didn’t matter. They were at the World Series.

They went to parties before and after games. Davenport, a Giants instructor, introduced Tommy to one of his old teammates, Orlando Cepeda. A Fresno radio station interviewed father and son. After Game 2, they were able to join others in the Giants’ family on the field. Tommy met Felipe Alou. He met so many people.

“I think I became the 11-year-old again and Tommy became the 46-year-old father,” said Joyce.

The memory Tommy thinks he’ll keep for a long time: “It was the first pitch of the first game and seeing all the flashes (from cameras) going off. That was cool.” His favorite Giants player: Bumgarner. “He’s a lefty pitcher and I’m a lefty.”

Tuesday morning, Tommy Joyce wore his new San Francisco Giants batting practice pullover to school. “People are fine with it. Red Sox fans don’t really care. The Red Sox don’t play the Giants.”

For Joyce, it’s all been another example of what’s called the web of the game. He and Renteria, a kid from poverty in Baraquilla, Colombia, were chasing dreams when they first met at Hadlock.

Neither one has forgotten.

 

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]