photos courtesy of Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Paterson NJ, yes it is finally really happening, in October 2019 the Paterson’s City Council approved an agreement with developers for a renovation that could save the historic landmark during an Oct. 1 meeting. The roughly $76-million project is expected to turn the stadium into a 7,800-seat athletic facility, with a 314-space parking garage, restaurant with museum exhibits dedicated to Negro League baseball, 75-unit apartment building for senior citizens and a 5,800-square-foot childcare facility. EDA still needs to authorize the $49.9 million state tax credits for the $76.7 million project.
Hinchliffe Stadium is one of the last remaining Negro Leagues stadiums in the United States. It is the first National Historic Landmark that honors baseball and the only sporting venue within the boundary of a National Park. Over 20 Hall of Famers graced Hinchliffe’s hallowed grounds, many of whom played in the Negro Leagues.
Hinchliffe’s horseshoe style is reminiscent of the Polo Grounds, the long-time home of baseball’s New York Giants. Paterson’s ballpark opened to great fanfare in July of 1932. The sports promoters of the day noticed that when visiting African American ballclubs played at Hinchliffe Stadium, attendance would increase.
The following year, Hinchliffe Stadium was one of the sites for the 1933 Colored Championship of the Nation. Although the series was mired in controversy, that series was the impetus for having steady Negro Leagues games at Hinchliffe beginning with the 1934 season.
Hinchliffe Stadium served as the home park for the New York Black Yankees, New York Cubans, and on occasion, the Newark Eagles.
In 1942, Larry Doby, a fresh-faced graduate of Paterson’s Eastside High School was offered a tryout with the Newark Eagles at Hinchliffe Stadium. Doby made the ball club, a day that would change his life forever. On July 5, 1947, Doby made his Major League Baseball debut with the Cleveland Indians as the first African American player in the American League, a mere 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson integrated the National League.