NJ Jackals Heading to Paterson, Sparking Pro Baseball’s Return to Hinchliffe Stadium

After leaving Yogi Berra Stadium, the New Jersey Jackals are bringing pro baseball back to Hinchliffe Stadium, a former Negro Leagues park.

Paterson Mayor André Sayegh announces that the Jackals will play at Hinchliffe Stadium. Photo via Facebook/New Jersey Jackals

Professional baseball is returning to the historic Hinchliffe Stadium after the New Jersey Jackals announced that the renovated Paterson site will be their new home, starting in 2023.

Paterson Mayor André Sayegh officially revealed the expected news at Hinchliffe on Wednesday alongside Jackals ownership and local officials. New Jersey Monthly first reported Sayegh and Paterson’s interest in the independent minor league baseball team in mid-August after the Jackals announced their plans to leave Yogi Berra Stadium, which is located at and owned by Montclair State University.

At the time, the Jackals said they would announce their future plans in September. They spent 25 years at Yogi Berra Stadium.

“Paterson stepped up to the plate and said that the renovated Hinchliffe Stadium would make for an ideal new home for the New Jersey Jackals,” Sayegh said in a press conference. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, now the Jackal is out of the bag.”

Hinchliffe Stadium, one of the last standing Negro Leagues ballparks, is nearing the end of a $94 million repair project that broke ground in April 2021. The stadium had been abandoned since 1997, but the redeveloped site will seat roughly 7,500 people and include a multi-sport facility accessible to youth athletics, a restaurant and event space, affordable senior housing, a preschool, parking, and exhibitions dedicated to Hinchliffe’s heyday, which spanned from the 1930s to the 1980s.

An artist’s rendering of a renovated Hinchliffe Stadium. Rendering courtesy of André Sayegh

A number of Negro Leagues teams played at Hinchliffe before Major League Baseball integrated, such as the New York Black Yankees, New York Cubans and Newark Eagles. Legendary ballplayers—including Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard, Martin Dihigo and Oscar Charleston—all ventured there.

The last professional baseball game played at Hinchliffe Stadium happened in 1950, when a group of major league players competed against minor leaguers from Passaic County, according to Brian LoPinto, co-founder of Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, a group that advocates for the venue.

“Professional baseball is why Hinchliffe Stadium became a National Historic Landmark, through the Negro Leagues,” LoPinto said. “It makes sense to return pro ball to the stadium.”

The Jackals are an independent minor league team, which means they are not affiliated with a singular MLB team. However, the Jackals said in August that they will stay in the Frontier League, which partners with MLB.

“All 16 of our teams are really excited about this opportunity and about this plan,” said Steve Tahsler, the Frontier League’s deputy commissioner.

He continued: “We’re not here for a one- or two-year stopgap. When we put a team in a stadium, we want a 20- to 30-year-plus positive relationship with the community. We’re starting that off today.”

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