Hopes high Negro Leagues stadium makes comeback

The Associated Press

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) -- The light touch of a paint roller is enough to dislodge a chunk of plaster from the crumbling walls of Hinchliffe Stadium.

Though silent for decades, the former home of several Negro Leagues teams is getting another chance at bat as baseball's first National Historic Landmark.

Historians, volunteers, activists and a former Negro Leagues player who has pushed for decades to save the stadium say the place is more than worthy of the designation, formally recognized with a plaque and dedication ceremony Wednesday.

''These athletes were so passionate about the game of baseball that they were willing to endure whatever social adversity confronted them as they traveled the highways and byways of this country - just to play baseball,'' said Bob Kendrick, president of the Kansas City, Mo.-based Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, who attended the dedication. ''That passion would not only change our sport, but it would change our country for the better.''

Other sporting cathedrals such as Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have national profiles, but haven't advanced to landmark status, D. Brent Leggs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said. Boston's Fenway is on the National Register of Historic Places, as was Hinchliffe until last year when designated a landmark. Chicago's Wrigley Field is eligible for landmark status but has yet to go through the process.

Hinchliffe opened in 1932. And besides home to the New York Black Yankees, the New York Cubans and other teams, it was a Depression Era haven for working-class kids. Eleven members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame played at Hinchliffe, including Larry Doby, who went to high school in Paterson and whose son attended Wednesday's ceremony.

Doby integrated the American League in July 1947, just months after Jackie Robinson broke the National League's color barrier - actions being celebrated this week by Major League Baseball.

The Friends of Hinchcliffe Stadium hopes to restore the stadium for use by new generations in the working-class neighborhood where it stands. So far, the group has raised $1.2 million to stabilize the structure, but knows millions more will be needed to fully restore it.

School groups and other volunteers Wednesday helped paint the walls of the stadium and remove thickets of weeds, taking less than an hour to transform decades of multi-layered graffiti into a freshly painted surface.

''I hope I'll be able to see it finished and be built so young kids can come here and enjoy themselves, and grow up to be great people,'' said Robert ''Bob'' Scott, a pitcher for The New York Black Yankees from 1946-1950. Scott is now 82.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Paterson native who pushed for landmark status for the stadium and nearby Great Falls national park, has introduced legislation to incorporate the stadium into the footprint of the park, which would make the stadium eligible for more funding.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Veteran Lester thinks Cubs' youth helps chance for repeating

      Veteran Lester thinks Cubs' youth helps chance for repeating

      No baseball team has repeated as World Series champions since the New York Yankees reigned from 1998 through 2000. Jon Lester, a three-time World Series champion, thinks the Chicago Cubs have a few legs up on the situation. ''The biggest positive … More »

      AP - Sports - 9 hours ago
    • Venezuela, Ilitch, Tigers' future all on Cabrera's mind

      Venezuela, Ilitch, Tigers' future all on Cabrera's mind

      When Miguel Cabrera takes the field for Venezuela in next month's World Baseball Classic, he'll be trying to bring some much-needed joy to his native country. It's like, two sides, you know?'' Cabrera said. Cabrera is back at spring training, … More »

      AP - Sports - 15 hours ago
    • Longtime Angels RHP Weaver joins Padres

      Longtime Angels RHP Weaver joins Padres

      Right-hander Jered Weaver has agreed to a $3 million, one-year deal with the San Diego Padres after 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. Weaver and the Padres confirmed the long-anticipated deal Saturday, pending a physical. The 34-year-old … More »

      AP - Sports - 16 hours ago
    • Kershaw to start seventh straight opener

      Kershaw to start seventh straight opener

      Clayton Kershaw will make his seventh straight opening-day start for the Los Angeles Dodgers, tying Don Sutton's franchise record. ''You take a little bit of pride in wanting to do it every year,'' Kershaw said. It took Manager Dave Roberts four … More »

      AP - Sports - 17 hours ago
    • Robinson Cano optimistic about Mariners' season

      PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -- Robinson Cano's 13th major league season starts Sunday when the Seattle Mariners gather as a full squad for the first team workout of spring training, and the seven-time All-Star was all smiles after arriving at team … More »

      AP - Sports - 17 hours ago