The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd.
Baseball is back at Hinchliffe Stadium — saved after a $100 million renovation.
It’s a historic site in Paterson, New Jersey, where Negro League greats of yesteryear such as Larry Doby, Satchel Paige and Monte Irvin played. That was back in the 1930s. The stadium had been sitting empty since 1997.
Now Hinchliffe Stadium is home to the New Jersey Jackals of the Frontier League, an independent baseball league not affiliated with any major league teams.
Andre Sayegh, mayor of Paterson, led the efforts to renovate the stadium, one of the few Negro League stadiums still standing in America.
“It was opened up in 1932, and in 1933, it became the home to two Negro League teams — the New York Black Yankees, who played here for 12 seasons, and the New York Cubans, who played for two seasons,” Sayegh said. “This is a tribute to the legends that played on this field. Twenty Hall of Famers played at Hinchliffe Stadium.”
The stadium was designated as a national historic landmark in 2013 for its significance.
Donning a gray Jackie Robinson sweatshirt, former New York Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener for the New Jersey Jackals Sunday. Growing up in Brooklyn, Randolph was inspired by Black ballplayers like Robinson. He hopes that the reopening of Hinchliffe Stadium will spark interest in the history of Black baseball in America.
“Once you understand the history of it, people will want to know about the history of these great men and women,” Randolph says. “To me it’s all about putting us out in front of everyone, because a lot of times you don’t hear about this type of history, and the fact that we can talk about it and this will be a legacy that goes on.”
SEE MORE: Reflecting on Selma's 'Bloody Sunday' 58 years later
About 400 people attended the home opener as the New Jersey Jackals took on the Sussex Miners. It’s a 10,000-seat stadium smack dab in the midst of Paterson, a diverse city that’s 22% White, 25% Black and 63% Hispanic, with Hispanics being applicable to report in other race categories. The median household income for the city of 156,661 is $48,540, according a U.S. Census 2022 report.
Paterson native Manny Martinez, who is Dominican and Puerto Rican, is a huge baseball fan. He brought his 7-year-old daughter Mia to the game to teach her about baseball, grabbing empanadas at the food concession before the game.
“Hopefully, it brings baseball back to life, because nowadays you have a lot of kids who don’t play baseball,” Martinez said. “Hopefully, they come to the stadium and see what it’s about. Hopefully they get into it.”
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com