Matt Joyce hosts baseball camp at North Brandon Little League
SEFFNER - All-Star Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Matt Joyce once again returned to the field where he took some of his first swings. On Sunday, the Tampa native hosted his third annual Matt Joyce Sweet Swingin' Baseball Camp at North Brandon Little League, passing on baseball knowledge to young players and giving back to the community where he grew up. "This is where a lot of my roots are, and I owe a lot to this area," said Joyce, who graduated from Armwood High School before playing baseball at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. One hundred Little League players attended the camp, which is one of North Brandon's major fundraisers. Like last year, the event raised more than $10,000 for the non-profit youth sports group.The money will be put to good use, said Rob Turkett, vice president of North Brandon Little League. "Hillsborough County pays for water and electric, but everything else comes from concessions, sponsors and donations," Turkett said. "Last year, we were able to have field number one re-done and re-soded." A silent auction featuring autographed jerseys from big league players, such as Jonathan Papelbon and Jorge Posada also helped raise money. Joyce was joined by fellow Major League Baseball players, including Rays teammate Elliot Johnson, Mariners catcher (and former Ray) John Jaso, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and Nationals outfielder Denard Span. The camp featured stations across two of North Brandon's fields. Each station was manned by a different ballplayer and emphasized a fundamental skill set, including hitting, fielding ground balls and pitching. Joyce -- who played at North Brandon Little League when he was 10 and 11 years old -- moved frequently from one station to another, providing one-on-one instruction as often as he could. "I consider it my responsibility to help grow our team's fan base whenever I get the chance," Joyce said, "and because this area has given me so much, I take that responsibility very personally."
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