Lawmakers Hope To Add Historic Baseball Stadium To Park

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Jeffrey Chiesa (R-NJ) and U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today introduced the Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act, legislation that would make Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium a part of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, in their respective chambers.

The ballpark — recently designated as a National Historic Landmark — was originally built in 1932 and was the home of the Negro Leagues’ New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans, as well as the 1936 Colored Championships of the Nation.

“This legislation will help realize the original vision of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, which had included Hinchliffe Stadium. With Hinchliffe Stadium included in the park, a more complete American story can be told there,” said Sen. Menendez. “We have come far from the days when our national pastime emerged from segregation, and I look forward to a revitalized Hinchliffe Stadium reflecting a better nation that embraces and celebrates the diversity of America.”

“Adding Hinchliffe Stadium into the park’s boundaries will help others to recognize our nation’s struggle for racial equality and the challenges many Americans faced during segregation,” said Chiesa. “I am pleased to join my colleagues in working to advance the stadium’s inclusion into the Great Falls National Historical Park. Preserving the living history of our nation’s development helps to educate future generations and make our country even better.”

“As one of only a handful of surviving Negro League stadiums in the nation, Hinchliffe tells the story of the struggles faced by African Americans who came north in search of economic opportunity and racial equality,” said Pascrell. “Decades later this historic stadium symbolizes the strength and courage of the many players that graced its field, including Larry Doby, as they overcame great adversity in pursuit of a more perfect union. Including Hinchliffe within the National Park is a fitting tribute to this special chapter in our nation’s history, as well as the Silk City’s rich cultural and historical contributions to America.”

In 2009, Pascrell, Menendez and the late Senator Lautenberg introduced the “Great Falls National Historical Park Act,” which was signed into law as a part of the “Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.” The measure designated the Great Falls in Paterson as a National Historical Park and commissioned a study to assess Hinchliffe’s potential to be named a National Historic Landmark. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Interior completed the study, and designated Hinchliffe as a National Historic Landmark.

Eleven current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame played on Hinchliffe’s grounds, including Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, William Julius “Judy” Johnson, Oscar Charleston, and Leroy “Satchel” Paige. In addition to hosting Negro League baseball, Hinchliffe Stadium was also home to three professional football teams, many auto racing events, and professional boxing. Located within Paterson’s National Landmark Historic District, the stadium is directly above the Great Falls National Historical Park.

Paterson School Board, the current owner of the stadium, adopted a resolution in support in support of the bill.

The bill also has the support of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson, and former Paterson Mayor current Chair of the Great Falls Advisory Commission Pat Kramer.

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