By STEVE LENOX
August 13, 2020 at 3:42 PM
PATERSON, NJ – It’s going to take a major league effort to restore Paterson’s historic Hinchliffe Stadium, and that’s exactly what Mayor Andre Sayegh is going after.
On Thursday, inside the stadium that once hosted the Negro League World Series and was the sports home to several generations of local athletes, Sayegh announced that former Major League Baseball star, and current MLB Network commentator, Harold Reynolds would serve as an honorary ambassador to the revitalization effort.
Reynolds was quick to point out that his appearance was “more than a publicity stunt,” putting his personal connection to the league that boasted stars such as Larry Doby, “Cool Papa” Bell, and Josh Gibson, into perspective by saying that his father was actually a bat boy for Chicago’s team.
“The names and stories are incredible, and they go back before Jackie,” he said of the pioneer ballplayer that broke the MLB’s color barrier in 1947. The revitalization effort, which won critical support of the Paterson City Council Tuesday night, also puts Paterson on a path towards the future, Reynolds said, by giving significance to the past. “You don’t know what you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
While City Council Vice President Lillisa Mimms and Fifth Ward Councilman both reiterated their support for bringing life back to stadium that has sat dormant for more than 20 years, it was Reynolds himself who offered a larger vision as to why restoring it to a “field of dreams”, as Sayegh has referred to it, matters.
Saying that he believes a revived and restored Hinchliffe Stadium has the power to bring the community back, as he has seen happen in places like Boston and Chicago, Reynolds added that “the power of the stadium is not just the playing surface.”
In addition to featuring Hinchliffe Stadium on a show commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Negro League on MLB Network Saturday night, Reynolds told those gathered that he is going to put his rolodex to work by calling those he believes will “want to engage.”
“We have a bold and attainable vision,” Sayegh said, concluding that he is hopeful that by 2022 the stadium will not only be hosting athletic events but also be home to an annex of the Negro League Museum.