A-G public address announcer returns to booth
Charles Mitchell sits in the press box as the Chargers take the field. Photo by Scott Cole / Neuse News
Part of the magic of sports is who you hear calling the game. In Philadelphia, you were serenaded with the sounds of Harry Kalas. Cubs fans were entertained with Harry Caray while the entire baseball world loved L.A.’s Vin Scully. Other sports had their golden-throated icons: John Madden, Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Mike Emrick, and Dick Vitale, to name a few.
Local sports are no exception. Bryan Hanks, besides being the public address voice of the Down East Wood Ducks, is the announcer for the Kinston boys' and girls' basketball teams. If you head up to Greene Central, Jay Wilson turns the basketball games into a concert with the great music and a carnival with all the games and contests he holds.
One of the popular local voices is Charles Mitchell, a resident of Grifton and a retired 37-year employee of Dupont. Mitchell is the announcer at all Ayden-Grifton football, basketball and baseball games. Mitchell does this, and other things for the Chargers, strictly as a volunteer, because he loves it so.
“Charles is one of those people in the community that I don’t think people realize all that he does,” Ayden-Grifton football coach and athletic director Paul Cornwell said. “He is the public address announcer for three sports, he drives the buses, he checks to make sure the equipment is working.
"He does a lot of things that wouldn’t get done if it weren’t for him keeping on top of it."
Mitchell is a 1970 graduate of Grifton High School. A few years later, he began his second career as a sports volunteer.
“I started off in the youth leagues in 1979. I remembered all the people who volunteered their time when I was younger,” Mitchell said. "It’s fun; it’s a lot of fun, actually. And you know, someone needs to help out. If you have the time, you owe it to the community to help out. This gives me something to do and if somehow, someway I can make a difference for one of these kids, then that’s great. But I truly enjoy doing this.”
Since 1989, Mitchell has been involved with the sports programs at Ayden-Grifton. He was the president of the booster club, he drove buses and he called the games.
“Mr. Charles is one of the staples within the Ayden-Grifton High School community," A-G Principal Dr. Chena Cayton said. "He is one of the biggest fans of the school who has a vested interest and passion to ensure that AGHS is successful. I feel that all fans enjoy his commentating and sense of humor that is displayed when he announces for football, basketball and baseball."
Cayton said while she enjoys Mitchell's passion, there is something she likes the most.
“The thing I appreciate most about Mr. Charles is that he ensures that old traditions and respect for AGHS are upheld," she said. "He has the respect of the students, parents, teachers and myself. I am very thankful for his advice and insight on how to help Ayden-Grifton charge towards excellence.”
In the spring, though, Chargers baseball had a different P.A. voice. Instead of hearing Mitchell, fans heard Will Tyer, A-G’s tennis coach and science department chair calling the games. Mitchell had an illness that kept him sidelined for most of the baseball season.
“I missed it a lot. I was also afraid that someone would steal my job,” Mitchell joked. “I kept doing what I was trying to do to get back here. I came back and told everyone, ‘I’m back!’, but it wasn’t time. I was nowhere near coming back. It took a lot out of me, but I am glad to be here for the games again.”
Tyer is happy to turn the microphone back over to Mitchell.
“You know someone does a great job when you want to do it too. I want to be Mr. Charles,” Tyer said. “He allows Ayden to use resources for other things that we couldn’t do without him because he does so much for us. That allows us all, coaches and players, to be better.
"You have someone who does a job, who is great at it, and does it all with a smile and a laugh.”
His illness also kept Mitchell sidelined from the annual Grifton Shad Festival, where Mitchell has been the president for the last five years. Mitchell, who is now healthy and well, is looking forward to the new season and is excited about their prospects, even if the team is young.
He is also excited about being able to give back to the team and school he loves -- and he gave credit to his spouse.
“The key to being a volunteer is having a great and understanding wife, “ Mitchell said. “She used to make the chili for the baseball team before every game, even after our son graduated in 1992.”