Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) announced that the Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act (H.R. 2430), legislation Rep. Pascrell introduced that would make Paterson's Hinchliffe Stadium a part of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's National Parks Subcommittee will also consider Sen. Menendez's (D-NJ) companion bill, S. 1189, tomorrow.
"Today is a very special day for Hinchliffe Stadium as it moves one step closer to receiving the recognition it deserves," said Rep. Pascrell. "This historic stadium has the unique distinction of hosting transformational players like Paterson's own Larry Doby who overcame great adversity in uniting America's pastime. Hinchliffe played a vital part in the history of our state and our nation, and now is the time to ensure that this story has a place in our National Park System for generations to come."
The Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act passed by unanimous consent out of the House Committee on Natural Resources in April, with an amendment that would prevent the National Park Service (NPS) from being required to purchase the property. This allows the Paterson Board of Education to maintain ownership of the building. The amendment also allows NPS to accept a preservation easement that would provide legal means to enforce future preservation of the stadium.
In 2009, Rep. Pascrell introduced the "Great Falls National Historical Park Act," which was signed into law by the President as a part of the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009." The measure designated the Great Falls in Paterson as a National Historical Park and commissioned a study to assess Hinchliffe's potential to be named a National Historic Landmark. Last year the U.S. Department of Interior completed the study, and designated Hinchliffe as a National Historic Landmark.
In 2010, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Hinchliffe as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
In April, Rep. Pascrell participated in a ceremony commemorating Hinchliffe's designation as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by unveiling the official plaque from the Department of Interior. Following the ceremony, hundreds of volunteers gathered at the historic stadium to paint its walls during a cleanup event sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the City of Paterson.
Eleven current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame played on Hinchliffe's grounds, including Larry Doby, Josh Gibson, William Julius "Judy" Johnson, Oscar Charleston, and Leroy "Satchel" Paige. In addition to hosting Negro League baseball, Hinchliffe Stadium was also home to three professional football teams, many auto racing events, and professional boxing. Located within Paterson's National Landmark Historic District, the stadium is directly above the Great Falls National Historical Park.
The Paterson School Board, the current owner of the stadium, adopted a resolution in support of the bill.
The bill also has the support of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and former Paterson Mayor and current Chair of the Great Falls Advisory Commission, Pat Kramer.
The Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act has been cosponsored by 24 bipartisan cosponsors, including the entire New Jersey congressional delegation.