Historic Hinchliffe Stadium could host baseball once again
PATERSON, N.J. - A $94 million renovation project is underway to restore Hinchliffe Stadium to its former glory.
Among those to whom the stadium in Paterson means so much is Larry Doby Jr., son of baseball Hall of Famer Larry Doby. The elder Doby made history as the first Black player in the American League when he signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1947 — just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The younger Doby described Hinchliffe as "a magical, mythical place."
"It was also the place where he had the tryout to join the Newark Eagles, which later on turned out to be the springboard for him to break the color line in the American League," Doby said, referring to his father.
Hinchliffe opened in 1932 and was the home field for the New York Black Yankees of the Negro Leagues. For decades, it was a popular venue for Negro Leagues games and high school sports but has been in disrepair for 25 years.
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Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh hopes Major League Baseball will play a Field of Dreams game at Hinchliffe as has happened in other U.S. cities, especially given its historic ties to the Negro Leagues.
Such a game would "also tell the story of how much of a struggle it was for civil rights, equal rights, and human rights," Sayegh told us.
In a statement to FOX 5 NY about a Field of Dreams game, MLB said, "we are delighted by the overwhelming fan response to our event in Iowa and we hope to highlight other special locations with rich baseball traditions in the future, as we have since 2016."
Hinchliffe Stadium will be able to accommodate 7,800 fans for sporting events, concerts, and the like when the renovation is finished. The project is set to be completed in the fall.
Doby said he hopes Hinchliffe will be as special to others as it was to his father.
"Maybe somebody will get a college scholarship, somebody will play in the pros, and, at the very least, somebody will make memories like he made on that field," Doby said.