Springfield, Ohio – Former Wittenberg University football standout Fred Mitchell, class of 1969, added yet another award to his lengthy resume when he was inducted into the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame on Thursday, Jan. 17, in Augusta, Ga.
A member of Wittenberg’s Board of Directors since 2008 and a 1995 inductee into the university’s Athletics Hall of Honor, Mitchell was recognized for his groundbreaking collegiate career and his contributions to the game of football. He was one of three 2013 inductees into the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame, which was established in 2008 by the Augusta Sports Council to recognize “remarkable accomplishments in American football” by honoring former professional, collegiate and high school kickers and coaches.
“I am so proud and humbled to be inducted along with former New York Jets punter Dr. Stephen Neal and the late NFL punting star Reggie Roby,” Mitchell said. “I accept this honor on behalf of all of my former Wittenberg University teammates and coaches, especially Bill Edwards and Davey Maurer. And I continue to marvel at the successes of the many Wittenberg kickers who have succeeded me over the decades, most of whom were smart enough to kick soccer-style instead of the straight-on method with a square-toed shoe that I deployed.”
Previous inductees into the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame: (2008) Sammy Baugh, Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud, Jim Thorpe, George Blanda; (2009) Ray Guy, Pete Gogolak, Ben Agajanian; (2010) Tom Dempsey, Yale Lary; (2011) Doak Walker, Leroy Mills, George Allen; (2012) Kevin Butler and Jerrel Wilson.
One of the first placekicking specialists in the college game between 1965 and 1968, Mitchell set an NCAA College Division record for career points by scoring, in addition to 12 school records and five Ohio Athletic Conference marks. A 1968 Lutheran Brotherhood All-American, Mitchell set a school record of 106 career extra points that held up for 30 years, while his record of 166 career points by kicking lasted for more than 20 years.
Mitchell, who later played semi-professional football with the Columbus Bucks and Chicago Heights Broncos, presented the idea in the mid-1970s to Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Chicago to manufacture kicking nets, which are prominent today on the sidelines of NFL, college and high school fields.
A 1999 inductee into the American Football Association Minor League Football Hall of Fame, Mitchell has continued to break new ground in recent years. In 2009, the National Football Foundation created the Fred Mitchell Award, which annually honors the most outstanding kicker among the more than 750 non-Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the nation. The selection committee also considers community service as a criteria for the award.
Mitchell has enjoyed a lengthy and award-winning career as a journalist and author. He is the only reporter in the history of one of America’s iconic newspapers, the Chicago Tribune, to serve as a beat writer for the Cubs, Bills and Bears in his career. He has been recognized with the Jim Murray Award as the outstanding sportswriter in 2000 by the American Football Foundation, the Bill Gleason Outstanding Sportswriter of the Year by the Pitch & Hit Club in 2010, and the Irv Kupcinet Media Award in 2010.
He also has written 11 books, including biographies with Chicago Bears Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Richard Dent, Chicago Cubs Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams, and the best-selling Playing Through with Earl Woods, the late father of record-breaking golfer Tiger Woods.
Written By: Ryan Maurer