The Richmond Flying Squirrels are visiting Hadlock Field this weekend, the only trip to Maine for the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

Normally this would be a calendar highlight for Ken Joyce, the Portland native who broke into pro baseball as a volunteer bullpen catcher with the inaugural Portland Sea Dogs in 1994 and wound up earning four World Series rings, three with the Giants.

But Joyce, who spent the previous five seasons as Richmond’s hitting coach, resigned in April just as the Flying Squirrels were set to begin their season. Instead of riding buses between Eastern League outposts, Joyce has been watching his daughter, Jill, play softball for McAuley High and his son, Tommy, play baseball for Portland High.

“I resigned on my own terms,” Joyce, 51, said as he watched a recent Bulldogs baseball game from an unobtrusive spot far down the left-field line. “I felt it was time to be home with my family. As spring training wore on, I felt more disconnected with what was going on at home.”

Joyce said he grew tired of the travel required of minor leaguers and didn’t want to miss that small window of opportunity to see his children play high school sports. Jill is a freshman and Tommy a junior.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to see Tommy play baseball and Jill play softball,” he said.

Bobby Evans, general manager of the Giants, said the organization would miss Joyce.

“He’s a great teacher of the game,” Evans said last week. “He’s got a gift for instruction and hitting, and has great passion for the game. He just knows his stuff.”

Richmond entered the weekend in last place in the Western Division with a record of 23-37, worse than every team except the Eastern Division cellar-dwelling Sea Dogs (19-40). Accordingly, Richmond (.313) and Portland (.303) have the lowest on-base percentages.

Miguel Ojeda, Richmond’s first-year manager, is serving as hitting coach after Joyce’s replacement, Mike Goff, left for personal reasons in early May.

Evans said Joyce didn’t burn any bridges by leaving so late in spring training.

“For him, it really wasn’t a good fit for this season,” Evans said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to try to get back in the game this year but I’m sure he’ll have some interest next year. You never know. Maybe there will be an opportunity here at some point. … He’s multi-talented and in a very strong position.”

Joyce played at Deering High and the University of Southern Maine, where he became a three-year assistant to Coach Ed Flaherty.

Joyce met Carlos Tosca, the first manager of the Sea Dogs, and John Boles, Florida’s farm director. Like Joyce, neither Tosca nor Boles had played professionally.

At the 1996 All-Star break, the Marlins fired their manager and installed Boles, who insisted on bringing Double-A hitting coach Jeff Pentland with him. That created an opening in Portland for Joyce, who finished the season with the Sea Dogs to begin his minor-league coaching journey. He remained in the Marlins system through 1999, then spent two seasons in independent baseball and eight in the Blue Jays organization, rising as high as Triple-A Las Vegas in 2009.

Even though Las Vegas led the Pacific Coast League in average (.290), slugging (.457) and OPS (.811), and Randy Ruiz won the league MVP award, Toronto did not renew Joyce’s contract.

The Giants signed him as their Triple-A hitting coach in Fresno, California, where Joyce worked with Buster Posey in 2010. The Giants asked Joyce to switch to Richmond in 2011. At the end of that season, San Francisco sent Joyce to the Arizona Fall League, where advanced prospects get extra attention. Arnie Beyeler, former manager of the Sea Dogs, was the Scottsdale manager, and Joyce’s hitters included Giants prospect Brandon Crawford, and two promising outfielders named Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.

“If the situation is right, I might pursue it,” Joyce said of a return to pro baseball. “It would have to be at the higher levels of the minor leagues or a coordinator position, and the right fit, the right organization. Right now I’m focused on finding a teaching position locally and giving private lessons.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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