Sussex County’s leadoff hitter Edwin Mateo became the first professional baseball player to stand inHinchliffe’s batter’s box since 1950.
Jackals Win First Sporting Event in a National Park
By Brian LoPinto
PATERSON, N.J. – It’s not often that a 91 year old makes history.
On May 21 st at 4:42 p.m. Hinchliffe Stadium added to its rich history as the venerable ballpark hosted the
first professional sporting event within the boundary of a National Park. Historic moments were
witnessed from the outset as the New Jersey Jackals defeated the Sussex County Miners 10-6.
Sussex County’s leadoff hitter Edwin Mateo became the first professional baseball player to stand in
Hinchliffe’s batter’s box since 1950. Mateo took Vin Mazzaro’s first pitch for a ball, and the Frontier
League immediately took the ball out of play and donated it to the Charles J. Muth Museum of Hinchliffe
Stadium. The very next pitch, Mateo connected on Mazzaro’s offering sending the blue and red stitched
pearl over the center field fence for both the first professional hit, and home run, in nearly 73 years.
Prior to Mateo, the last home run at the corner of Liberty and Maple occurred when 14-year major
league veteran Del Ennis clouted a homer while wearing his Philadelphia Phillies uniform in 1950.
Two batters later, Princeton, New Jersey native Gavin Stupienski hit a solo shot giving a Miners a quick
2-0 lead. Paterson’s new team answered back in their half of the first. New Jersey leadoff hitter James
Nelson was hit by a pitch, followed by right fielder Josh Rehwaldt’s home run to tie the game. The
Jackals would add two more runs on Nilo Rijo go-ahead single for a 4-2 lead after one inning. Rijo a
Passaic, New Jersey native, added to this historic first inning by swiping the first stolen base in
Hinchliffe’s modern era.
“I’m going to go for it right away,” said Rijo, who was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox. “It’s either
I hit the first home run, or steal the first bag.” Rijo’s place in history was not lost on him.
“Knowing that so many legends played here, just stepping on the field, wow, I’m grateful.”
Hinchliffe Stadium’s baseball diamond is not configured as the Negro Leagues games were played. The
current configuration has a clear advantage for left handed hitters.
“It’s a launching pad,” said Jackals manager P.J. Phillips. “But you still have to hit it, you still have to
touch the ball. We settled down, we pitched well. Just tried to shut them down.”
“The idea for this is really, really cool,” said Sussex County manager Chris Widger about Hinchlife
Stadium’s renaissance. “It’s going to be tough, because they’re probably going to break every home run
After a day off, it will be brunch and baseball at Hinchliffe Stadium as the Jackals host the Evansville
Otters. First pitch 10:35 a.m.