Redevelopment work nearly complete on Paterson’s historic Hinchliffe Stadium
A landmark of Black baseball history in Paterson nears completion on its redevelopment.
With a Black developer at the helm, the New Jersey Jackals Minor League baseball team is set to bring baseball back to Hinchliffe Stadium in May.
“When I think of the glory days of Hinchliffe Stadium, I think of all the people that came,” says Baye Adofo-Wilson, CEO of BAW Development. “We really have done a good job, I think, in replicating the historic Hinchliffe Stadium.”
Adofo-Wilson says the renovated stadium will seat 7,800 people.
“Where the white lines are at is the original 1932 version of the baseball diamond,” Adofo-Wilson says. “It’s very humbling and it’s an honor to be in this role.”
The stadium was closed for 25 years and fell into disrepair.
“There was graffiti on here. There were trees growing up behind you,” Adofo-Wilson says. “There were two homeless families living here.”
Adofo-Wilson grew up in Paterson in the 1980s and said that life was tough.
“There’s no jobs and so, the economic outlook was bleak,” he says. “For me, I think the biggest challenges was trying to figure out what to do. How to live. How to work. How to dream.”
Black baseball greats, like Paterson’s own Larry Doby, were kept out of the Major Leagues for decades due to racism. But they found a home in Hinchliffe Stadium. It was the home field for the New York Black Yankees and the New York Black Cubans, playing in what was then called the Negro Leagues.
“There’s only a handful of stadiums left where Negro League baseball was played. It’s unfortunate so few are left, but what we’ve done in Paterson is preserve and restore one so people can participate and exist in that history,” Adofo-Wilson says.
He says that the stadium will feature the original historic signs.
“The goal is to bring as many types of people to Paterson as possible,” Adofo-Wilson says. “The [Paterson Great] Falls is a center point for Paterson, and Hinchliffe stadium is adjacent to the Falls.”
He adds, “But how do you use it for economic development? How do you use it to create jobs? How do you use it to create opportunity for people?”
Adofo-Wilson says that preserving the history of the stadium, “provides me with a feeling of…satisfaction.”
Opening day for the Jersey Jackals is May 20. Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh says he is working to get former President Barack Obama to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the renovated stadium.