The city’s governing body approved an ordinance expanding the boundaries of the Great Falls Historic District to include Hinchliffe Stadium.
Tuesday’s approval comes after the United States Congress passed legislations expanding the boundaries of the Great Falls National Park to include the historic stadium. The stadium is one of the few remaining ballparks around the country where the Negro League hosted baseball games.
Although city council members unanimously approved the expansion, one city resident opposed the measure. “Hinchliffe Stadium is an exhibit and would fit in with another collection, it doesn’t fit in with a historic area,” said Tom Fuscaldo, during a public hearing on the expansion.
“Hinchliffe Stadium has no connection with the history of Paterson far back,” said Fuscaldo. “That’s recent history.”
Fuscaldo said the stadium and the historic park represent two different eras in American history. “It’s a totally different era,” said Fuscaldo. “It’s totally out of place.”
He said whomever is working to fit the stadium into the district will have a great deal of difficulty reconciling the disparate periods of histories represented by the park and the stadium.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, defended the historical significance of the stadium. “At one time African-Americans were denied the opportunity to play alongside other individuals in the major leagues,” said Sayegh.
He cited some of the greats the stadium produced: Larry Doby Josh Gibson, William Julius “Judy” Johnson, Oscar Charleston, and Leroy “Satchel” Paige. 11 of the current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame played at the stadium. The stadium was also home to the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans.
The district was established in 1988.