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Farewell to the Field event takes a look back

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 20, 2015

CLAWSON – High School graduate Jim Bowerfind fondly remembers the first football game played on the field of Clawson City Park.

The Class of 1953 graduate said he played on the field in the fall of 1952.

“The field was dirt the first year,” Bowerfind said. “It wasn’t turf or greens like you have now.”

The former Clawson resident said he remembers playing only about three home games that year. He remembers taking on teams from Berkley, Center Line, Roseville and Romeo.

“We did OK,” he said.

Bowerfind said the team played what could be considered its first game in 1951 on a temporary field that ran north and south; however, the first game on the current configuration that runs east and west was played in the fall of 1952.

He said the field they originally played on by the current Clawson Middle School was too small and the end zone had players running into the street, so they had to relocate.

Clawson Director of Recreation and Senior Services Kathy Leenhouts is looking for other former football or soccer players, marching band members or avid spectators who took the field at City Park throughout the years. All are invited to the Farewell to the Field event on Sunday, May 3, in Clawson City Park.

The noon-2 p.m. event is a kickoff for park improvement construction, including a new artificial-turf field and track, which is set to begin on May 4.

Attendees may designate a $10 donation for a piece of the field to one of six different charitable organizations. The participating groups are the Clawson Athletic Boosters, Clawson Band Boosters, Clawson Mavericks, Clawson Youth Soccer, the Park Maintenance Fund or the Gridiron Club.

Leenhouts said the donation could be for an actual piece of the stadium’s grass field — yes, participants can take pieces home — or just a symbolic donation of support.

The happening will feature food, children’s games and a historical display.

As part of the event, a photo will be taken at 1 p.m. of everyone who used or enjoyed the City Park football field or track.

Leenhouts has been partnering with the Clawson Historical Museum to locate as many alumni as possible.

“We have heard back from several people on this,” Leenhouts said. “It has been a fun walk through history as I have been getting calls from Clawson alumni who now are in California, Tennessee and some still around here who are weighing in on the subject.”

Football alumni Ken Gibbard and Bill Hayes said they are planning on attending.

“And we are reaching out to find more people to represent the different classes over the years the field has been in use,” Leenhouts said.

Hayes said he is planning on attending the event with his wife and four siblings. Bill’s brother, Ray Hayes, was a member of the 1968 Super Bowl Champion New York Jets football team.

Gibbard rose to local fame as a Clawson football coach and teacher.

“I am looking forward to seeing many of my old students, team members, teachers and friends at the park on May 3,” he said.

Those who want to participate in the event, or who know anyone who used the fields at Clawson City Park, are asked to contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (248) 589-0334 or via email at