Boys like Michael Mayfield are supposed to grow up. They are supposed to develop into ambitious men who make a positive and lasting mark on the world. They are supposed to be eulogized, like Bishop Robinson and William Worthy, many decades after their birth, as pioneers in this or that field, as the first something or the best, most memorable something else.
Mike Mayfield was something else. If he had been only an ace pitcher, striking out the side whenever called upon for Edmondson Westside High School, he’d probably achieve Baltimore legend status. His musicianship—he played trombone, baritone horn, and tuba, plus drums—might have counted too. But what people remembered at his funeral, people he taught and worked with every day, were the intangible things that often lead to something like greatness later in life. They remembered Mayfield’s kindness and leadership skills.
“He was not a boisterous kid,” says Thelphs Evans, who coached Mayfield in Little League and watched as Mayfield coached even younger kids. “He was a quiet, serious kid. He’s probably what we strive for in terms of helping our kids develop as kids. If we had our wish every kid would be like Mike.”
Mayfield’s mother, Sylvia Marcella Mayfield, died in 2010. His father, Michael D. Drake, did not have custody, so Michael’s sister, Tekeya, took charge of him as an aunt watched over both.
He started playing baseball at age 6, and was a natural, says coach Ed Nottingham. Although money was tight for the family, Mayfield was so good that people around him found ways to help.
Roosevelt Berkley, who coached Mayfield in the James Mosher Little League since he was about 8, says Mayfield had developed a wicked curve ball in his teens. “He was a genuine kid,” Berkley says. “He was willing to teach. He didn’t hang out on the corner. You see his grades—he wanted to get out of poverty.”
Mayfield joined the Junior ROTC program and quickly distinguished himself as a leader there as well. “He taught me the facing movement,” Keimya Cave says. “He was the one who told me to join the drill team, and I did.”
Mayfield was also a leader in the Inner Harbor Project, a youth-led nonprofit group working out ways to make the area safer and more inviting for young people.
“The one thing I want people to understand is this is not another bad kid getting shot,” Rickya’h Brooks, a fellow Inner Harbor Project participant, told The Sun’s Justin Fenton. “This is one of the good ones that was on the right track, that had goals, that loved helping other people get on their feet,” she continued. “He was a part of the future, that just got taken away. He was important to us.”
Mayfield had been accepted into college in North Carolina, and was considering a military career when he was shot to death while sitting in a van outside his grandparents’ home. His uncle Matthew Drake told TV station WBAL it had to be a case of mistaken identity. Eleven weeks later, Drake’s own son, Matthew Drake, who resided a the house where Mayfield was killed, was gunned down on the 3200 block of Chelsea Terrace. He was the 100th homicide of 2014 in Baltimore. On Dec. 9, police arrested 25-year-old Omar McGee and charged him with Drake’s murder.
Mayfield’s killing remains unsolved.