- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Redskins legends and Anacostia residents yesterday celebrated the transformation of a bumpy sandlot dubbed the "Dust Bowl" into a lighted football field named for Hall of Famer and community volunteer Bobby Mitchell.
"This is great… . When you look out here on this field, you see grass," said Mitchell, the Redskins' assistant general manager and the team's first black player when he arrived in 1962.
"A lot of young kids are going to get an opportunity to play some games out here."
The field, next to a clubhouse used by the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs in the Congress Heights neighborhood, features bleachers, an irrigation system and an electronic scoreboard.
The renovation is part of a $1.1 million makeover of the clubhouse and its grounds. Bobby Mitchell Football Field will host Pop Warner League football games and citywide championships.
"This is another piece of the crown in Ward 8," said Ron Dennis, who represented D.C. Council member Sandy Allen, a Democrat who represents Ward 8.
While most of the speakers gathered on a makeshift stage heaped praise on donors to the project, they mostly reminisced about Mitchell's 11-year National Football League career and roasted one another.
"Bobby was a great football player, a great receiver, and he's been a great friend of mine for 30 years," said former Redskins quarterback and Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen.
Noting the lackluster state of the current Redskins' offense, Jurgensen insisted Mitchell should consider putting his uniform back on.
"He may still have a few catches left," said Jurgensen, now a color analyst on the team's radio broadcasts. Mitchell caught 521 passes in the NFL.
Mitchell, though, later mentioned that Jurgensen rarely passed him the ball, instead choosing former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Charley Taylor.
Team owner Daniel Snyder said he was too young to watch Mitchell play but has come to rely on Mitchell's experience since he bought the team last year.
"He's been very special to me," Mr. Snyder said. "Bobby represents all of us."
Fellow Redskins Hall of Famer Sam Huff took the opportunity to publicly ask Mr. Snyder for a favor on behalf of Mitchell: "Retire his No. 49. I think No. 49 deserves to have his jersey retired."
Mitchell, a native of Hot Springs, Ark., graduated from the University of Illinois and was selected in the eighth round of the 1958 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. Washington traded for him in 1962.
He played in four Pro Bowls one with Cleveland and three with Washington and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1983.
Mitchell has worked in the Redskins' front office since retiring as a player in 1969. He has held his current position since 1981.
Mitchell is chairman of the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Area Leadership Council and a board member of the American Lung Association of D.C. The former athlete has worked with the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Friendship House and the White House Task Force on Drugs.
His Bobby Mitchell Hall of Fame Golf Classic has raised more than $1 million for charity.
In addition to the refurbished football field at a cost of more than $300,000 the 35-year-old clubhouse will get a new gym floor, computer lab and other improvements.
The project included a $100,000 grant from the Community Football Fields program of NFL Charities and Local Initiatives Support Corp. The rest of the money will come from a campaign, sponsored by corporations and foundations, that is contributing $4 million to other clubhouses.
"It has long been clear that it is important to provide area youth with alternatives to hanging around on stoops and street corners," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer.
"The Bobby Mitchell Field, and the new Clubhouse Number 11, represent our down payment on providing those quality alternatives."
After the dedication, members of the community who played on the old field recalled running over bricks and rocks, hoping to avoid ankle injuries.
"When you saw all these little kids running, all you saw was a cloud of dust," said Tyrone White.
"These kids are just tremendously thrilled," said Ron Williams of the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs. "They have grass and bleachers here."

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