The 2018 New Jersey History
and Historic Preservation Conference
Hinchliffe Stadium was laid out by the Olmsted Brothers, designed by Fanning and Shaw, and opened in 1932. The stadium was the site of the final meeting of the 1934 Paterson Labor Strike. The New York Black Yankees team of the Negro League used the stadium for 12 seasons beginning in 1933; in 1935 and 1936 it was also used by the New York Cubans team. The stadium is one of only three Negro League baseball stadiums of note still standing. The stadium has been out of use for many years, but intensive planning is underway for the rehabilitation of the site and a groundbreaking ceremony was recently held to kick off the beginning of a restoration project funded in part by American Express, the New Jersey Historic Trust, and the 1772 Foundation (northjersey.com). This past March, the stadium received another $500,000 from the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grants program (northjersey.com).
Born in South Carolina, Larry Doby moved to New Jersey as a teenager and attended Eastside High School in Paterson, where he was a three-sport all-state athlete. At 17, after tryouts at Hinchliffe Stadium, he accepted an offer to play for the Newark Eagles. His baseball career was interrupted for two years of service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, after which he rejoined the Eagles, and along with Orange, NJ native Monte Irvin, helped them win the Negro League World Series. In July 1947 he signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the second person after Jackie Robinson to break the MLB color barrier. He and Satchel Paige were the first African Americans to win a World Series in 1948, and Doby was the first African American to hit a home run in the World Series. In 2002, the City of Paterson renamed the Eastside Park baseball field “Larry Doby Field” and a bronze sculpture, designed by Phil Sgobba, was erected in his honor. The baseball field and sculpture are located at 150 McLean Boulevard in Paterson.
A life-size bronze statue of comedian Lou Costello, part of the comedy duo Abbott and Costello, stands in front of the gazebo in the Lou Costello Memorial Park in Paterson’s historic downtown (the park was originally known as Federici Park, after the prolific local sculptor Gaetano Federici). Costello was born and raised in Paterson. The sculpture, installed in 1992, depicts Costello holding a baseball bat, a reference to the famous “Who’s on First?” skit he performed with Bud Abbott. It’s not exactly baseball history—but it’s in the ballpark.
After soaking up all of the baseball history, catch a live game at the Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, home of the Minor league team the NJ Jackals, and also where the Montclair State Red Hawks. An addition to the stadium was built to house the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, home to a permanent collection of photographs and artifacts that document the life of the “winningest player in baseball history.”
If stadium food isn’t cutting it for you and you need a bite to eat, check out A Taco Affair on Main St in Little Falls, which features tacos with a fun gourmet twist such a Korean BBQ Pork and Jerk Chicken, and for dessert, house made churro ice cream bowls.