Location: Patterson, New Jersey
The abandoned Hinchliffe Stadium, or “City Stadium”, is an Art Deco style depression era facility built with public funds in 1932. In addition to baseball, the stadium hosted football games, boxing matches, auto racing and track & field events at various times during its use. It also served as a venue for musical acts. The stadium could host as many as 10,000 spectators before needing to increase its capacity with its portable bleachers. One of the stadium’s claims to fame is that it offered professional black sports teams and players a place to compete at a time when they were excluded from the Major Leagues. The stadium was greatly successful during its prime which lasted into the 1950s. In 1964 the facility was enlarged for use by the city school system. Later, in the 1980s, the stadium was temporarily used for semi-pro football and international soccer games. However, shortcomings in maintenance lead to a compromise of the structural integrity of the field prompting Hinchliffe’s closure in 1997. According to the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium website, the facility is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and is being considered for inclusion in the proposed Great Falls / SUM National Park. In addition, an architecture firm specializing in historical restorations was commissioned to plan the field’s renovation. So, we may see this field in use once again in the near future.
The Baseball Teams and Their Players
Due to segregation within professional baseball, various “Negro Leagues” were created that operated parallel to the leagues that excluded them. Some of the Negro League teams that played at Hinchliffe Stadium included, the New York Cubans, New York Black Yankees, Mohawk Giants and Newark Eagles among others. The New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans were NYC based teams that called Hinchliffe home at one time; although, the Yankees relocated to Rochester toward the end of their existence. The Mohawk Giants were a Schenectady New York based team and the Newark Eagles were organized in Newark, NJ. The team logos (shown above) for the Mohawk Giants, New York Cubans and Newark Eagles were painted on Hinchliffe’s field. At some point in the field’s history it was covered with Astroturf, likely protecting the logos long after the teams were disbanded. Major league baseball began desegregating in 1946 when Jackie Robinson was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Soon after many of the Negro Leagues best players were integrated into the majors leading to a decline in Negro game attendance and the end of the Negro leagues in 1952.
Other Events Hosted at Hinchliffe
Since this post is about a baseball stadium, I’m not going to dwell too much on the other illustrious events once held at the venue; however, they do merit mentioning. The Patterson New Jersey racing events held at Hinchliffe were for motorcycle and midget cars. Some of the well-known drivers to race here were Dutch Schaefer, Rex Records and Ted Horn. Football teams that called Hinchliffe home were the Silk City Bears, Paterson Giants, and Paterson Nighthawks. The stadium also hosted high school football games. Diamond Gloves boxing (predecessor to Golden Gloves) matches were held at the stadium starting in the late 1930s and lasted at least into the mid 1940s. I couldn’t find very much on concerts hosted at the stadium but acts like Duke Ellington and Lee Castle were featured there.
Experiencing the Abandoned Hinchliffe Stadium
Unlike many of the places I have visited, the interesting features of this place were mostly confined to architectural elements and the scale of the place. So, a lot of what made the site interesting is still intact since there wasn’t as much to vandalize or steel for scrap. That said, there was evidence arsine and I could tell that there had once been a lot more graffiti. Walking around the stadium was like looking in a window through time to a past era. As I wandered through the bleachers it was easy to imagine the roar of the crowd and spectacle of the game below. This place was once full of life; hopefully someday that vitality will return.
For additional photos: Hinchliffe Album