Three Paterson Teams Compete in Hinchliffe Stadium Doubleheader
May, 18, 2023
By Brian LoPinto
PATERSON, N.J. – What a difference 26 years make. Venerable Hinchliffe Stadium re-opened its doors with a four-team doubleheader, 26 years to the day of its last event, a Kennedy High School baseball game. The matinee appropriately featured Eastside High School, the alumni of Larry Doby, for whom the stadium so intrinsically represents, against perennial power house Don Bosco Prep. While the nightcap pitted two Paterson ball clubs, Kennedy High School and the Paterson Charter School.
In first game, Don Bosco’s short stop Eric Becker had the honor of notching the first hit at Hinchliffe Stadium in over a quarter of a century. Becker stroked a single to right field in the first inning, the senior shortstop would go 2 for 3 on the day with two runs batted in. In the home half of the first, Eastside’s leadoff hitter, Sandy De La Cruz, got on base for his team’s first hit.
After two innings of scoreless ball, the Ironmen scored two runs in the third when Becker drove in centerfielder James Hinspeter, followed by an Allen Hernandez single that drove in Becker. On the day, Hernandez was 2 for 5. In their half of the third, Ghosts’ right fielder Eduardo Alcantara laced a double in the left-centerfield gap to drive in third baseman Alexander Acosta, making it a 2-1 Don Bosco lead.
In the top of the fourth, the Ironmen led off with a double off the bat of left fielder Michael Hanna. Two batters later, Nick Becker would get hit by a pitch. The Ironmen would then let off a string of hits which would result in a six run frame, giving Don Bosco an 8-1 lead. The Ironmen never looked back which resulted in a final score of 14-2. The win improves the Ironmen’s record to 19-5, while Eastside falls to 11-9.
Regardless of the outcome, this was a special moment for Ghosts head coach Ralph Rojas and his ballclub.
“This was something they were looking forward to,” said Rojas. “Everybody was excited. We had a decent crowd.”
When asked how the field played, Coach Rojas, echoed the sentiments shared by the players, umpires and fans.
“I don’t know if it’s 327’ down the right field line though,” questioned Rojas. “If it was 327’, you wouldn’t need that net.” Rojas was referring to a rather high net that was installed to prevent balls from flying onto Maple Street.
In the second half of the twin bill, Kennedy High School won their second consecutive game at Hinchliffe Stadium, albeit with a 26-year gap. In the school’s last game, they defeated Montclair High School by a score of 5-3. In the Knights’ return to their stadium four blocks away from home, they matched their predecessor’s five runs from 1997, and added three more en route to an 8-0 victory over Paterson Charter.
“You see all of the pictures, then you come in here like, ‘wow.’ It takes your breath away,” said Kennedy head Coach Manuel Rodriguez in regard to historic images of Hinchliffe Stadium. “Every day, we talk a little bit about the history of the stadium. Little by little they would learn more. They would ask me about Josh Gibson, and now they are playing here. So, now, to them it’s like, ‘wow’”
‘Wow’ is precisely the word to describe Hinchliffe Stadium, for so many different reasons.