The Jeff Mitchell Memorial Field is almost ready for opening ceremonies, when it will be dedicated to Little League. A memorial to all public service members who lost their lives in the line of duty is at the entrance.
 

Jeff Mitchell Memorial Field opens Aug. 29 in El Dorado Hills By Roberta Long For fans of baseball in the El Dorado Hills area, their dream of a Little League tournament field will come true on Saturday, Aug. 29. A ribboncutting and opening ceremonies for the Jeff Mitchell Memorial Field will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 831 Redwood Lane, next to William Brooks Elementary School in El Dorado Hills.

The impetus for the memorial diamond came following the death of Sacramento County Deputy Jeff Mitchell, who was shot on Oct. 27, 2006, during a routine traffic stop on Meiss Road south of Highway 16.

Mitchell, who lived in El Dorado Hills with his wife, Crystal, and son, Jake, had a passion for kids and baseball. He coached for El Dorado Hills Little League South and spent time teaching Jake the ins and outs of the game. Jake was 6 when his father died.

A memorial designated by three sculptures of oversized baseballs greets entrants to the field. It reflects upon the sacrifices of all public service members who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Opening ceremonies will begin with Color Guards from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, El Dorado County Sheriff's Department, El Dorado Hills Fire Department, El Dorado County Fire Department and California Highway Patrol.

Following welcoming remarks by local dignitaries, the field will be formally dedicated to Little League.

In honor of those involved in public service, the initial game will be an exhibition competition between law enforcement and firefighters.

Next on the field will be the teams from El Dorado Hills Little League North and El Dorado Hills Little League South.

In addition to the games, there will be free hot dogs, contests, children's activities and live music by Lightning Hand.

The Jeff Mitchell Public Service Memorial Committee raised approximately $1.2 million to refurbish an existing ball field in Bertelsen Park, which is owned and managed by the El Dorado Hills Community Services District. "We started just as the economy was going down," said Susan Johnson, who led the fundraising efforts for the committee. "In spite of the difficulties, we made our opening goal."

A combination of cash and in-kind contributions made the dream real. Roebbelen donated engineering services and Land Architecture donated services and supplies. The Bank of America is a major donor. The El Dorado Hills Rotary Club pledged $100,000 and EDH Little League conducted fundraisers toward construction of the field. Many public service members and citizens contributed to the effort.

Johnson said the committee is continuing to raise money to complete the memorial field. "We figure we will need between $300,000 and $350,000 to put the final touches there," she said.

Diana Hillyer, from the El Dorado Hills Community Services District, said the basics are all in place. The site amenities to complete the installation of Phase 2 include a combination concession-restroom building, additional bleachers, shade covers and upgrading the lighting system.

David Koch, an El Dorado Hills Little League South board member, said: "This field was not only desperately needed due to our shortage of existing fields, but will be our "crown jewel" and the only field with lights. It will be used by our Majors division (ages 11 and 12) and we intend to host regional baseball tournaments here. This not only benefits our local youth, but with families coming in from all over Sacramento and the foothills, our local businesses will benefit as well. I am extremely proud that we were able to name this field in Jeff's honor."

To get to the field from Highway 50, exit at El Dorado Hills Boulevard, turn north, left on Saratoga, right on Mammoth, right on Arrowhead, left into park at Redwood Lane.

For more information, visit www.jeffmitchellfield.com and www.edhcsd.org (telephone: 916-933-6624). Photo credit: Roberta Long