It’s unlikely that Paterson, New Jersey, will undergo a renaissance any time soon, but the designation of Hinchliffe Stadium as a National Register Historic Site may provide a boon to a town desperately in need of one. It is a storied stadium, one of the last remaining to have hosted Negro League Baseball games, but as you read about it you may be reminded of a time when stadia of this nature were the centerpiece of thriving industrial towns.
Originally owned by the municipality, Hinchliffe was ultimately given to the Public School System and hosted many athletic competitions when Paterson was the crown jewel of Bergen/Passaic County. Athletic competition can hold so many valuable lessons for our children, and provides a wide range of civic lessons.
I was reminded of this twice recently, watching two of our grandchildren – one from afar and the other near. Carson played an integral role on a youth football championship team, culminating in a 27-0 victory played in a college football stadium in Florida.
Kayla was the rebound queen of her youth basketball team that went undefeated, but is often relegated to being a spectator on her school team because the older girls get to start ahead of her. Last week I was at a game where her team lost by a point in overtime to one of the regions’ best.
What kids learn still learn through team sports is the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. I hope that Hinchliffe Stadium is restored, and although one might think the money could be better spent on other things such as education and law enforcement, something tells me that its lessons are priceless.