“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people!” (Lamentations)
William Carlos Williams is the author of an epic poem about Paterson. It is one of the cities “left behind.” Maybe not anymore.
In fall 2019, it was announced that plans are full-steam ahead there to restore a neglected monument to the history of baseball: Hinchliffe Stadium. Back in the day, Hinchcliffe had been one of the hubs of the Negro leagues. Today, in the shadow of its glory, Hinchliffe watches over cricket played by immigrants from Bangladesh. Soon, if things work out, these ruins will give rise to a multipurpose-sports facility; though some doubt.
Construction is “in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro leagues.*
Once home to the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans, Hinchliffe was host to…Monte Irvin, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, and Paterson’s own Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League.
(The biggest crowd recorded at a minor-league game was 57,000. Satchel Paige, aetat. 50, pitched. The date: I [Evander] believe August 7, 1956. The all-time single-game baseball-attendance record may have been 120,000. This was at the infamous 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics Games, a then-rare night game. In 2008, 115,000 watched the home-team Dodgers play the Boston Red Sox at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The 1964 Olympics hosted by Japan saw a throng of 114,000 at the amateur ballgame in Tokyo.)
“Previous efforts to bring the field back to life faltered, leaving residents, even young ones, fatalistic about its future. ‘When this place is fixed, I’ll be forty,’ laments fourteen-year-old Saleh Ahmed.” (This according to the New York Times.) To paraphrase from the start: maybe not this time, kid.
* With a Negro leagues museum, Hinchliffe Stadium reopens May 19, 2023. Then the New Jersey Jackals could take on the Sussex County Miners.