Street musician Sam Mitchell on Thursday recounted the many “wonderful people” he’s met in recent years playing on the streets of Saratoga Springs.
They’ll dance and sing as they pass by and maybe throw a couple bucks in his case.
“Sometimes,” he says, “I can’t wait to rush home and tell my wife about the great experience . . .”
Mitchell’s voice trails off. “I’m sorry folks,” he says as he speaks to a reporter and photographer.
Mitchell is speaking in the Saratoga Springs Public Library parking lot, where two weeks ago he met the worst of the community.
“I just don’t understand how you could be so inhumane to a person that never done a thing to you,” Mitchell says.
Taking his guitar from his car shortly after midnight on Jan. 16 for a rare winter late-night session on Putnam Street, a man approached him and beat him.
Bloodied, he suffered a fracture to his face, causing him severe headaches since, a swollen eye, scratches and bruises.
After taking a series of blows, he says he tried to defend himself with his guitar, which the man then smashed.
No arrests have been made.
Mitchell has played guitar for extra money in Saratoga Springs for the past several years, gaining a small following of passers-by.
Some of those friends have since taken up his cause on the Internet.
Don Warren, a Saratoga County musician who often saw Mitchell around Saratoga Springs, one time gave Mitchell a card. If Mitchell ever needed something, call, Warren recalled Thursday.
In the wake of the attack, Mitchell called. Warren posted a plea for help to his Facebook page on Jan. 18. The post quickly grew to be shared more than 900 times.
“He’s always got nice things to say about everybody,” Warren said. “He’s a good guy and to see something like that, . . . it’s really disheartening.”
Replacing his guitar
Mitchell’s daughter in California also put up a GoFundMe page to replace her father’s guitar, describing him as a man with a passion for people and music. The page, titled “heal his heartstrings,” has already met its goal of $500, raising a total of $625 by Thursday night.
Mitchell, 53, lives with his family in Montgomery County.
Mitchell recalled arriving in the parking lot just after midnight. As he got his warmest clothing on and removed his guitar from his car, a man approached him and asked a nonsensical question: “What are you doing to my car?”
The man soon started rapidly punching him, Mitchell recalled. He not only felt the blows, but he heard them. Mitchell went down and the attack continued through kicks, he said.
He used his guitar to protect himself, which the man destroyed. The assailant soon left in a car with a woman.
“I felt like the most alone person in the world out there,” Mitchell said. “It was terrible.”
Mitchell described the man as white, between 25 and 30 years old, about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, with short light or blond hair. The man wore a light-green hoodie that appeared to be made of thin material.
He described the car as a dark, four-door sedan, possibly a Mazda or similar car.
Police ask that anyone with information contact them at 584-1800 or 584-TIPS for anonymous information. So far there are no suspects.
Mitchell tracked down a police officer on a nearby street. Despite his injuries, he got home himself and went to the hospital with his wife.
The outward signs of his ordeal have begun to fade. The facial fracture is expected to heal on its own. The emotional toll is still evident.
If he returns to playing, his wife hopes Mitchell can do it somewhere inside.
Mitchell recalls the good times he’s had playing.
“We talk. We sing,” he says of his usual passers-by. “It makes me feel good.”
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.