VFL Ben Joyce returns to East Tennessee

Ben Joyce, pitcher for Rocket City Trash Pandas, plays six-game series against the Smokies.
VFL Ben Joyce returns to East Tennessee with Trash Pandas
VFL Ben Joyce returns to East Tennessee with Trash Pandas(WVLT)
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:06 PM EDT
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KODAK, Tenn. (WVLT) - When dreams become reality, it can be a pretty surreal feeling. Well, that’s exactly how former Vol Ben Joyce feels.

Just weeks into his professional baseball career, he returns to East Tennessee to play inside Smokies Stadium, for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, a place he’s been coming to since he was 7 years old.

Now, he’s getting ready to take his hometown field for the first time in his professional career.

“I mean driving up here is when I kind of sat back and thought about it,” said Joyce. “It’s all starting to come around and I’m starting my professional career. So, I don’t think it’s set in, but it’s been a crazy few weeks for sure.”

This will also be the first time his family sees him play in person after beginning his professional career.

“This is the first time they’ve all seen me together in a professional game. It’ll be exciting to see them after and know that I have all these people out here supporting me and all have my back. So, it’s cool to be back in Knoxville and be able to have that,” said Joyce.

On Aug. 2, the Los Angeles Angels signed the Tennessee Vol. A couple of days later he was in Alabama with the organization’s Double-A team.

While the sights are still on the major leagues, he knows his journey is just getting started.

“I’m just trying to make the most out of every time I get to go pitch and kind of just be where my feet are. If you have a bad outing, you’re going to go out there again in two days. Just continue to get better every day and give it all you got every time you go out there,” said Joyce.

And just like his time on Rocky Top, his triple-digit pitch and infectious personality have already captured the hearts of Trash Panda fans.

“Seeing kids come up after the game and get excited, because I know I was that kid not too long ago. So, to be able to make their day and talk to them has been awesome,” said Joyce.

Joyce continued, “And just the support from the Trash Pandas fans and I mean even Vol Fans too. Seeing them on Twitter and keeping up with my career. It’s exciting to know you have those people behind you. And now back in Knoxville, I hope to see a few more Vol Fans here.”

Joyce took the mound for the Trash Pandas late in game one against the Smokies, Tuesday night.

He pitched one complete inning, gave up one hit, and struck out another.

Game two is slated for 7:15 Wednesday night.