New York Giants: Dan Duggan predicts retirement for OT Nate Solder

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have some offseason choices to make, and what to do with Nate Solder is one of them. The former Patriots tackle had a very underwhelming first season before sitting out his second season with the franchise entirely. If he comes back for a third year as a Giant, he might find it far tougher to secure and hold onto a spot in the lineup. But Solder coming back is far from guaranteed.

Solder has been able to relax and enjoy family life over the course of the season he sat out, and that might play into a decision to walk away from the game. Dan Duggan, of The Athletic, believes that’s the likely outcome.

Solder turns 33 in May. He has played in 130 games, won two Super Bowl rings and earned over $70 million. He has three young children, including 5-year-old Hudson, who is battling cancer, and has ambitions that extend far beyond football.

With all of that in mind, my gut feeling is that Solder will retire.

There’s also a chance the Giants could cut Solder whether or not he retires. But Duggan also mentioned that the cap savings the Giants would get from such a cut wouldn’t be available until the premier free agents are off the market.

As such, it’s unclear what would happen if Solder doesn’t walk away on his own. But considering how he’s already achieved everything and has an uphill battle if he does come back, that retirement route doesn’t look all that unlikely.

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas to play tackle, after all. It may be time to hand over the reigns completely to the second year player and move on from Solder at the position.

ESM’s Super Bowl LV Preview: Everything you need to know

While the quarterback matchup has rightfully taken center stage, Super Bowl LV will be decided through team endeavors.

The road to the Super Bowl was a bit bumpier this time around. Nonetheless, the countdown to the regularly-scheduled has finally ended.

Sunday will mark the end of the tumultuous 2020-21 NFL season, culminating in a slightly stifled celebration at Raymond James Stadium’s hosting of the 55th Super Bowl (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS). The Kansas City Chiefs will look to defend their Super Bowl crown carrying over from South Florida last season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who return to the so-called Big Game for the first time since their victory over Oakland in 2003. The game also has the added subplot of being staged at Tampa Bay’s home of Raymond James Stadium, which will host its third Super Bowl.

This game has generated a significant amount of hype for its quarterback matchup, which unites greatness from the past, present, and future. Kansas City will send out Patrick Mahomes, the defending Super Bowl MVP from their prior triumph over San Francisco, while the Buccaneers counter with Tom Brady, who is almost as much of a staple as the halftime show and the commercials combined. Brady will partake in his 10th Super Bowl, seeking to win his seventh championship.

“Could you imagine if Michael Jordan got his team to the Finals in ’98 or when he was older, against a young LeBron James, who’s really the face of the league?” game analyst Tony Romo said of the matchup, per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “It would be the greatest thing in the history of sports. I think we might actually have that Super Bowl. We might have that game. It just has never happened.”

But, of course, this isn’t a matchup between the Patricks and the Bradys…it’s the Chiefs and Patriots.

ESM has everything you need to know about Sunday’s matchup…

Positional Battle

The Matchup
Buccaneers Position Chiefs
X Quarterback
Running Back X
X Receivers
Tight Ends X
Offensive Line X
X Defensive Line
X Linebackers
Secondary X
Special Teams X

Last Time Around

This is a rare case of a modern Super Bowl rematch, as the two teams previously faced off in the regular season. On November 29, Kansas City took home the finest Floridian souvenir, a 27-24 triumph in Tampa. Mahomes threw for three scores and 462 yards, 269 of which went to Tyreek Hill.

What lessons can be gleaned from that game?

  • Get out to an early lead: Facing a Tampa Bay team that was, at the time, in the thick of a crowded NFC playoff picture, the Chiefs jumped out to an early 17-0 lead on the road and never looked back, withstanding a late Tampa Bay comeback to hold onto the win. Kansas City has made a living off big playoff comebacks…they trailed in each of their three games to the Lombardi Trophy in last year’s playoffs…but champions won’t be so forgiving. If Kansas City jumps out to a big lead again, they must keep their foot on the gas pedal and not relent. Even a 25-point second-half lead wasn’t enough to put Brady away in the Super Bowl…as Atlanta found out the hard way.

 

  • Don’t forget the defense: Hopefully, Raymond James Stadium has a backup scoreboard ready to go. Offensive fireworks are expected, but fans are quick to forget that Brady is only two years removed from a Super Bowl where the final score was 13-3. It may be a dying trend, but defense can still win championships. Kansas City certainly proved that in their November victory, forcing Brady into consecutive interceptions in the second half that helped secure the victory. Defensive antics came up big in the Chiefs’ triumph last season. As they mounted their effort, the unit preserved the win with a late interception and turnover on downs to wrap things up.

 

  • This matchup goes well beyond the quarterbacks: Make no mistake…Brady and Mahomes will go down as two of the greatest names to play the most complex and scrutinized position in sports. But the respective Super Bowl treks have come through team efforts. New heroes have arisen each week, each playoff level. In the conference championship round, it was speedy, reserve receivers like Mecole Hardman and Scotty Miller who helped fuel victories. There’s no reason to believe that the Super Bowl, producers of such unexpected heroes like Timmy Smith, Jermaine Lewis, and Adam Vinatieri, won’t have one here.

The Matchups to Decide It

Steve Spagnuolo vs. Tom Brady

Much to the presumed chagrin of the metropolitan area, there is plenty of local representation in Super Bowl LV. Kansas City has perhaps packed a secret weapon from East Rutherford, as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo’s ultimate claim to fame is his shutdown of the all-powerful, undefeated unit in Super Bowl XLII. The reunion has crossed Brady’s mind as he comes into the ultimate rematch.

“I think he really caters to the strength of his players,” Brady said this week, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “I think his scheme has evolved different times that I’ve played him several times over the last I dunno 13, 14 years. I think he’s a tremendous coach and everyone seems to love to play for him. I know he’s gonna have those guys ready to go.”

Jason Pierre-Paul vs. The Replacements

One of the most intriguing stories coming out of the 2021 postseason has been a delightful resurgence of Jason Pierre-Paul, one of several Giants defenders who made Brady feel uncomfortable in one of the two Super Bowl victories over New England. Now working with Brady in a collaborative Super Bowl effort, Pierre-Paul has been invading opposing backfields for him. Those efforts culminated with two sacks of Aaron Rodgers last week in Green Bay.

Making things even more difficult for the Chiefs is the loss of blocker Eric Fisher, leading to a reshuffling on the line in front of Mahomes. Andrew Wylie will take on an extended role in trying to contain JPP, as will Steven Wisniewski. While Kansas City has been lauded for their depth, trying to keep a hungry Pierre-Paul under control is one of the most unenviable tasks in Tampa on this Super Bowl weekend.

The Buccaneers will win if…

If you wanted to beat the Chiefs? Be the Chiefs.

Don’t take your foot off the offensive gas pedal. Go for it on fourth down. Take deep chances down the field whenever the opportunity presents itself. And, for the love of all things holy, make things difficult for Patrick Mahomes.

In our coverage of the Buffalo Bills’ AFC playoff endeavors, we’ve talked about how the best way to keep Mahomes in check is to keep him off the field entirely. Since Mahomes too over starting duties, Kansas City has lost nine games. In all but one of those contests, Kansas City lost the time of possession battle. To his credit, Brady was one to note this during the pair’s first playoff showdown in the 2019 AFC Title game. Including the extra session, New England held the ball for over 43 minutes of game time, leaving Kansas City a mere 20 minutes.

The Chiefs will win if…

Their defense is the difference-maker.

Everyone knows that the Chiefs’ offense should not be trifled with, and they’re well prepared to endure a shootout situation. But bigger games have often come down to down to defense, and the Chiefs have been happy to acquiesce. When Mahomes had to leave the Divisional game against Cleveland, the defense put Chad Henne in comfortable situations. Pressure allowed them to shut down Buffalo’s high-powered offense in the AFC title game, to the point where the Bills lost their composure entirely. This well could shape up to be a career-changing night for guys like Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones, Bashaud Breeland, and others. Coming back against the 49ers is one thing. But dealing a Super Bowl loss to Tom Brady…

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 27

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Pistons send Derrick Rose to Knicks for Dennis Smith Jr plus 2nd rd pick

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

Shortly after the New York Knicks suffered a tough 109-103 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday, help is on the way.

The Detroit Pistons have agreed to send former NBA MVP Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round pick (via Charlotte Hornets).

ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the completion of the trade that escalated quickly over the weekend.

Reunion and Redemption

Rose will be reunited with Tom Thibodeau, who made him the league’s youngest MVP 10 years ago in Chicago.

The trade will also provide Rose a chance to make up for his controversy-filled one-season stint with the Knicks in 2016. On top of his playoff experience, Rose is also expected to take Knicks’ quick-rising rookie guard Immanuel Quickley under his wing.

Thibodeau also coached Rose in Minnesota in 2018, helping resurrect his career as a sixth man.

Smith joins Pistons’ youth movement

Meanwhile, the Pistons hope that a change of scenery will help resurrect Smith Jr.’s flailing career. The former ninth overall pick was the central piece in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster trade.

Smith Jr. has requested the Knicks to send him to the G League after only seeing nine minutes this season. Smith is expected to leave the G League Bubble and join the Pistons’ youth movement.

With the worst record (5-18) in the league, the Pistons have pivoted to rebuilding.

The Pistons, under new general manager Troy Weaver, was also able to squeeze a second-round pick in next year’s Draft, which is viewed as one of the deepest class in years.

$15 million cap space left

Despite the Knicks tumbling to 11-14 after Sunday’s loss to the Heat, they are still in the playoff hunt, momentarily occupying the Eastern Conference’s seventh spot.

Rose is averaging 14.2 points and 4.2 assists in 15 games this season. The Knicks will also acquire Rose’s Bird rights giving them the advantage to re-sign him in the offseason.

With $17 million in cap space, the Knicks will absorb the remainder of Rose’s $7.5 million salary this season. After sending out Smith Jr.’s. $5.6 million salary, the Knicks will still have around $15 million in cap space for future moves as the trade deadline nears.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Islanders: 3 stars from victory over the Penguins

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have finally found themselves back in the win column after dropping 5 straight games. The Islanders needed to gain confidence and win in regulation, they accomplished both tasks. Overall I think it was a very mediocre performance from the Isles, but a win is a win. Nick Leddy and Scott Mayfield need to be taken off of the second d-pairing line. I don’t know if it’s because of endurance or maybe lack of chemistry, but they always look lost out there. It also makes no sense that Noah Dobson is getting bottom-pairing minutes. Then again, this team does make a lot of questionable decisions, such as giving Leo Komarov his 50th chance to prove his worth. Again, a win is a win, and there were some great performances from last night’s win. Who will be featured in the top 3?

Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle has found his stride very early into the season, something he literally never has done before. Eberle is playing 200 feet, and when you create turnovers in the neutral zone, good things happen. Eberle has an arsenal of toe-drags and dekes to beat out almost any defender. His backhand shot is easily one of the most dangerous shots on the team. But, what I’m most impressed by is his commitment to checking. Eberle has been very tight with his checking, and it looks like he’s everywhere at once. It’s always good to see an older guy with a lot of pep in his step.

Michael Dal Colle

The NHL might have to drug test Dal Colle because he has been playing the best hockey I’ve seen him play since his OHL days. I’ve been so harsh on Dal Colle for his entire career, but it looks like he finally found his stride. The one thing I love about Dal Colle is the energy he plays with. Dal Colle does not waste a single second in any shift. He is always forechecking or backchecking, and now his puck skills have developed, and he’s able to set up big offensive zone chances. Look for Dal Colle to cement his place on the third line when Anthony Beauvillier returns.

Cal Clutterbuck

I think the fourth line, aka the energy line, should be disbanded after this season. I don’t see the same speed or aggressiveness I saw in these players throughout their entire careers, especially with younger guys like Simon Holmstrom, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows ready to make the NHL jump. That’s exactly what I said to myself seconds before Clutterbuck scored the game-tying goal. It almost looked as if they blew the rush and walked away with no shot. And somehow, Clutterbuck found the back of the net and made it even. I still stand by what I said, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep Clutterbuck around.

Report: Pistons, Knicks nearing deal on Derrick Rose for Dennis Smith Jr, draft pick

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

Will the third time be a charm?

Ten years removed from becoming the league’s youngest MVP, Derrick Rose is nearing full circle with the man who made him such.

Rose is set for a third reunion with Tom Thibodeau as the New York Knicks are close to re-acquiring him, according to multiple reports.

Dennis Smith Jr., instead of Frank Ntilikina, whose name was first floated Sunday night, will be the key piece in the reported swap.

The Detroit Pistons are seeking additional draft compensation. But it will likely be a future second-round pick, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Rose, 32, will return to New York no longer viewed as a savior, unlike in his first stint in the 2016-17 season that ended in an ugly divorce. But at the minimum, he is expected to bring a scoring punch off the bench and mentor the Knicks’ quick-rising rookie guard Immanuel Quickley.

Change of scenery

Meanwhile, the Pistons hope that a change of scenery will help resurrect Smith Jr., a former ninth overall pick and the integral piece in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster trade.

Smith Jr. has requested the Knicks to send him to the G League after only seeing nine minutes this season. If the trade is consummated, he is expected to leave the G League Bubble and join the Pistons’ youth movement.

With the worst record (5-18) in the league, the Pistons have pivoted to rebuilding.

Rose fits Knicks short-term goal

The Knicks, on the other hand, are in the playoff hunt after a surprisingly strong start under Thibodeau.

Rose is averaging 14.2 points and 4.2 assists in 15 games this season. The Knicks will also acquire Rose’s Bird rights giving them the advantage to re-sign him in the offseason.

With $17 million in cap space, the Knicks can absorb the remainder of Rose’s $7.5 million salary this season. After sending out Smith Jr.’s. $5.6 million salary, the Knicks will still have around $15 million in cap space as the trade deadline nears.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: Pistons eyeing two young players in potential Derrick Rose trade

New York Knicks, Derrick Rose

The New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons are gaining traction with a potential trade involving veteran point guard Derrick Rose. Rose is currently on a two-year, $15 million deal that expires after the current season, which makes the idea of New York trading away a young player very interesting.

With Elfrid Payton playing well and Immanuel Quickley making an instant impact on offense, trading for Rose could be tumultuous for the young point guard’s development and disrupt Payton’s run of consistency.

However, you could also view Rose as a mentor for Quickley, who has the potential to be one of the next big players at the position in the NBA. This season, Rose is averaging 14.2 points over 22.8 minutes. He has yet to start a game, having played in 15 at 32 years old.

The New York Knicks have a long-lasting relationship with D-Rose because of Tom Thibodeau:

Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau have a fantastic relationship, which is likely why the two are connected. Reports have indicated that the two teams are close to striking a deal, and Detroit is reportedly eyeing Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox as two players they would like to acquire. I highly doubt the Knicks let both of them go, so Detroit will have to pick one or the other.

Frank offers an elite defensive presents that but has failed to realize his offensive abilities. He’s averaging just 4.5 points per game this year over four contests, while Kevin Knox is averaging 6.1 points over 18.2 minutes. Neither player is making a significant impact, which is likely why President Leon Rose is OK sending them on their way.

With the Pistons looking to utilize more youth on the court, this deal makes sense for them. Adding younger players who they can develop and with untapped potential is a positive move, especially for a player like Rose, who’s on the last year of a deal and isn’t seen as a future benefactor.

Rose would join Thibodeau in New York, with 2015 being the last time they played together. Thibodeau is credited for the rise of Rose, but there’s also a belief that he overworked him, which led to injuries.

The obvious connection between the two must have some sort of meaning, and Detroit desperately needs more point guard help, with Killian Hayes dealing with a hip injury. Adding Frank Ntilikina would be a good move for them and give them some defensive proficiency at the position.

Yankees News: Yasiel Puig update, is there still interest?

yasiel puig, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are still in the market for an outfielder, and while veteran Brett Gardner remains in play, the expectation is that they could consider alternative options.

The latest update on Gardner on their negotiations was a few weeks ago, as both sides feel confident they can strike a deal if they agree on a good price. General manager Brian Cashman is trying desperately to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, and Gardner could be asking for $5+ million in 2021. Considering the Yankees bought him out at $2.5 million instead of paying him $10 million for next season, they likely aren’t willing to overspend.

A few alternative options have bubbled to the surface, and one of them is Yasiel Puig. Several weeks ago, the Yankees were reportedly interested in his services, but it seems as if they have dipped out of the race. The 6-foot-2 and 240-pound outfielder is 30 years old and didn’t sign on with the team for the 2020 season, despite his desire to. His last major sample size was in 2019 when he played in 149 games and averaged .267. If he weren’t such a disgruntled employee, he would fit perfectly in the Yankee outfield, considering his immense power.

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Yankees have lost interest in Yasiel Puig:

The Royals are not in on Yasiel Puig. Which makes it a clean sweep. The 3 teams rumored to be in on Puig — Marlins, Yankees and Royals — are not interested. For his sake, hopefully there are teams.

Puig launched 24 HRs in 84 RBIs in 2019, with a relatively low strikeout rate. It’s a shame he can’t stay a consistent teammate and not cause any problems, as his career could be illustrious.

Back we go to the Gardner debate, and it seems as if plenty of fans are ready to turn the chapter on the aging outfielder. He does offer a lefty bat and consistency in the injury department, which is a big positive.

New York Mets get their center fielder in Albert Almora

New York Mets

The New York Mets didn’t quite sign a star center fielder. They failed to bring George Springer and they chose not to sign Jackie Bradley Jr., the second-best in the market after the former Astro and current Blue Jay.

Yet, the New York Mets needed to address the situation in the most important of the outfield positions, because even though Brandon Nimmo is a fantastic offensive contributor and a premier leadoff hitter, his defensive numbers in center were very bad.

Nimmo ranked in the 2nd percentile with -4 Outs Above Average (OAA), a Statcast metric, and according to Fangraphs, he had a -4.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), a -19.2 UZR/150, and -5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS.) He was bad according to just about every measure.

But the Mets are bringing a glove-first center fielder. He won’t replace Nimmo as the starter, but will presumably play a couple of times a week and serve as a defensive replacement.

The Mets are signing Albert Almora

Ken Rosenthal and Andy McCullough of The Athletic reported on Sunday morning that the Mets are in agreement on a deal with former Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora.

The terms of the contract aren’t known at this point.

Almora, according to Rotoworld, could be the weak side of a platoon in center field given that he is right-handed and Nimmo is left-handed.

He was non-tendered by the Cubs a few weeks ago, as he regressed with the bat in 2020 (.167/.265/.200, 36 wRC+) and 2019 (.236/.271/.381, 64 wRC+) after a couple of respectable seasons offensively.

Almora is no Bradley Jr. in center, but he is very good and will likely help the Mets solidify the outfield defense. In 2019, he ranked in the 81st percentile in OAA and in the 92nd percentile in outfield jump.

After signing Almora, the New York Mets have addressed every one of their needs during the offseason and are considered favorites to at least secure a postseason spot.

Yankees News/Rumors: Yankees ink another Montero and MLBPA playing with fire

The New York Yankees yesterday inked Fidel Montero, an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic. It is their second signing of a Montero in international free agency. On the first day of the signing period, they signed shortstop Hans Montero, who signed for $1.7M. Hans was their top target in international free agency. Furthering their efforts to produce great teams in the future, yesterday’s signing of the second Montero shows their commitment to the future.

The Yankees entered this signing period with the 2nd lowest amount of bonus-pool money, due largely in part to a 1 million dollar hit after they signed Gerrit Cole, who declined the qualifying offer from the Houston Astros late in 2019.  The Yankees have managed to sign five players. In addition to the two Monteros (not related), they signed two other players from the Dominican Republic and one from Venezuela.

Hans Montero stands between 5’10” and 6’0” tall; the shortstop Montero recently turned 17 years old this past Christmas Day. A right-handed hitter (and obviously thrower), he projects to stay at short through the majority of his career. Most talent evaluators will indicate his smooth action and play-style. He posses average plus speed and has the ability to hit the ball of all fields.

Fidel Montero is an outfielder with great promise. Fidel stands 6′ 1″ and weighs about 175 pounds. He was originally listed as a shortstop but has played in the outfield during the last few seasons, where he has been making a name for himself. He had a breakout season in 2019 as a 15-year-old. He has been listed as one of the most complete talents internationally. Ben Badler of Baseball America says that although he has great raw tools, he shows inconsistency, something the Yankees will have to fix.

MLBPA resists health discussion

Continuing to be confrontational leading up to this year’s renegotiation of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the players union seems to resist anything the owners want to do. Now they don’t even want to discuss moves to make it safer for players and staff. As the U.S. grieves another 3,500 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, the Players Association is bringing forth criticism of any plan of action for keeping on-field talent safe and healthy.

The Biden Administration scheduled a call with MLB, the owners, and the MLBPA (players union) on ways to make it safer for all involved, including a delay so that all players and staff could be vaccinated before the season starts. The MLBPA wouldn’t even take part in the phone call. The union is standing firm for no special rules and a return to 2019 play. With the union’s reluctance to even talk about health, they could be playing with fire.

The Legacy of Hinchliffe Stadium, Part I: History on Liberty

In celebration of Black History Month, ESM studies the legacy of Hinchliffe Stadium, a tragically decaying part of our nation’s history in Paterson, NJ.

History lives at the intersection of Liberty and Maple Streets in Paterson, New Jersey. Tragically, those who venture to the area, a stone’s throw away from the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, are often unaware that they’re walking the same steps, breathing the same air as some of baseball’s bravest legends. The Great Falls sit in the shadow of a baseball cathedral and testament to American resiliency and strength, a multi-purpose facility known as Hinchliffe Stadium. 

One could hardly be blamed for not recognizing the significance behind Hinchliffe. The stadium resembles a set piece from a post-apocalyptic series like The Walking Dead, its grandstands populated by uncontrolled vegetation and graffiti. What should be the playing surface is a vacant, cracked, concrete lot. Etchings of Negro league teams from an event held several summers prior are perhaps the only evidence that baseball was once played here.

Those who have documented and witnessed the history Hinchliffe has hosted find its deterioration a downright shame. Through a combination of bureaucratic negligence and mishandling, Hinchliffe was fallen into a state of disrepair. Today, it’s one of only two major Negro Leagues’ ballparks still standing in the country (the other being Rickwood Field in Birmingham). But it’s being treated as anything but the living museum it should be.

“Hinchliffe is one of a few remaining stadiums that played host to Negro League games,” Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City said of the stadium’s importance. “From that standpoint, it actually makes the stadium and the grounds artifacts. I know people don’t always look at it that way…but it’s an artifact. It can be a living, breathing artifact again. That makes it really important.

“The historical significance that it hosted all the great Negro League games and all the Negro League stars who played there really does makes (reclamation) something that we have a vested interest in wanting to see come to fruition.” 

As the country celebrates Black History Month, America is undergoing a period of reckoning and education about the prejudiced, violent, racist parts of its past, which have tragically crept into its present as well. Hinchliffe’s glory days were situated at the height of the turbulence, as the stadium was a haven of sorts in the era of segregation. From its opening, it was defined by the heroes of Nego league baseball lacing up their cleats through “barnstorming” events and more. Local and national names alike patrolled its dirt and grass. Some made their mark in both, namely Larry Doby, a Paterson-raised outfielder that broke the American League’s color barrier in 1947. 

Through this reckoning, some wrongs are being righted. Last December, Major League Baseball announced that Negro league records and statistics would now be counted in their stat ledgers. But, as recent times have demonstrated, the path to justice and equity has barely been traversed. Look no further than Hinchliffe’s dilapidated state, despite its status in history. 

But as the country seeks to make amends, Hinchliffe may yet have its moment in the restoration spotlight. 

The day before MLB’s groundbreaking announcement, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that Paterson would receive $20 million in additional tax credits to go toward renovation projects, headlined by the efforts at Hinchliffe. A volunteer group, Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, was founded in 2002 and spreads awareness and education, working alongside local historians. Among their progress when it comes to the restoration has been composing grants and petitions, as well as numerous public speaking appearances. To date, their efforts have earned over $500,000 in grant money toward preservation. 

“Our goal, pretty much from the outset, is this idea of creating awareness and being an advocate for the stadium, basically saying, ‘Hey Paterson, you have something pretty special here, you might want to take care of it,” FOHS co-founder Brian LoPinto said. “I think the most important thing is to accept and realize the fact that without the African-American, Negro Leagues components, I don’t think that Hinchliffe Stadium would have the type of national significance that it has. It’s the only national historic landmark that honors baseball. It’s the only sporting venue that’s within the boundaries of a national park.” 

LoPinto formed the group in 2002 alongside Dr. Flavia Alaya and they work alongside local and national contributors like Jimmy Richardson and BallparkBrothers’ Gary Aufforth. 

“Imagine a young African-American baseball player standing in the same batter’s box that Larry Doby once stood in.” 

This is the story of Hinchliffe Stadium and its past, present, and future, told in four parts, as ESM honors those who braved the ultimate evils of history to fulfill the American Dream…

Hinchliffe Stadium’s home plate, as seen in a 2020 art exhibit (Photo: Geoff Magliocchetti)

Play Ball

Named after the Hinchliffe family, which left a political and economic impact in the city, the establishment opened in the midst of the Great Depression. At its forefront, Hinchliffe will always be first remembered for the baseball history it was able to foster despite the most heinous of limitations. A stadium uncannily resembling both the Polo Grounds in Manhattan and Circus Maximus in ancient Rome, diamond warriors fought an enemy like no other: racism. 

In an era where basic rights were denied to Black citizens across the country, the national pastime was part of the attempted hijacking as well. But Black baseball had developed a strong following, particularly on the east coast in the decades before Hinchliffe opened its Art Deco gates. The Garden State had briefly played host to the Philadelphia Pythians in Camden shortly after the Civil War. But due to segregation laws, true facilities and organized leagues were hard to come by. 

Hinchliffe would go on to play host to not just some of the more renowned teams in the Negro Leagues (including the New York Black Yankees) but its barnstorming efforts would give rise to some of the most talented names to lace up cleats and wear leather on the diamond. Among these legends were Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and James “Cool Papa” Bell. Others were local legends on their way to making an impact on the national stage. Orange-raised Monte Irvin was such a name, as was Larry Doby, who made a permanent mark on the game as the first Black player in American League history. Each has since earned a plaque in Cooperstown. 

“He was one of the legendary players that called Hinchliffe home,” Kendrick said. “Larry Doby, in the annals of history, has kind of been the forgotten man. He shouldn’t be. Larry Doby is as substantial to the story of the integration of our sport as anyone. As a society, we always celebrate the first. Jackie (Robinson) was celebrated, and rightfully so. But we lose sight. It was only a few weeks that Larry Doby joined the Cleveland Indians to integrate the American League.”

“Larry Doby went through just as much, maybe even more, than Jackie, because it was Cleveland, which almost was like being in the South.” 

Doby went on to play 13 MLB seasons, all but three of them in Cleveland. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. 

A mural paying tribute to Larry Doby stands just outside of the stadium, as seen here in 2020 (Photo: Geoff Magliocchetti)

First Rounds, Downs, and Laps

Though best known for its spot in history created by baseball, the stadium made an immediate local impact through gridiron happenings. 

One of its first events was the annual Thanksgiving matchup between Eastside and Central (which later became John F. Kennedy) in 1932, a tradition that carried on through the mid-1990s. Nearby Clifton High School would host games as well. In addition to the local antics, the stadium featured professional endeavors of at least three football teams: the Paterson Giants and Nighthawks, as well as the Silk City Bears. The Paterson Giants suited up weeks before Eastside and Central did, falling to the Portsmouth Spartans…a.k.a. the modern-day Detroit Lions. 

Pigskins weren’t the only things being passed in the confines of Hinchliffe; the stadium also featured professional auto racing events several years before NASCAR started its engines further down south. The noise of motors and the fragrance of gasoline could be detected for miles on race days. 

Hinchliffe’s auto racing endeavors would later be documented on Lost Speedways, a web television series dedicated to asphalt cathedrals lost to time or neglect. The episode is available to stream on Peacock. 

The hits kept on coming for Hinchliffe, quite literally in the form of high-stakes boxing matches. John Regan, a former insurance examiner for the state of New Jersey, frequented the Hinchliffe stands for local events like the circus and holiday fireworks displays. Joining him in the grandstands was comic and Paterson native Lou Costello. Regan would also emerge on Hinchliffe’s formerly green blades on the field as an outfielder. 

“I was born three blocks from the stadium…My father fought there in the Diamond Gloves back in the 1940s. I played baseball there, so did my brother,” Regan said in recalling the impact Hinchliffe has left on his life. “It’s a shame it’s come to where they have to try and rebuild it again. It should’ve never fallen into disrepair.”

Even those away from the bleachers were making history at Hinchcliffe; the 1946 Diamond Gloves competition was the first New Jersey-based sporting event to be televised.

A view of Hinchliffe Stadium’s scoreboard (Photo: Geoff Magliocchetti)

The (Base)Path Ahead

The fight to reclaim Hinchliffe from the elements and ages has only just begun, unfortunately. But through the efforts of locals like LoPinto and others, much-needed change is coming to Paterson. After countless bureaucratic and political errors…none of which, sadly, will appear on Hinchliffe’s dilapidated scoreboard…things finally appear to be trending in the right direction. 

In materials provided to ESM, one of the first steps LoPinto has outlined to get things rolling is the return of the home plate passed over by Doby, Irvin, and their compatriots to its rightful resting spot. In this endeavor, the FOHS is collaborating with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

“The return of the Negro Leagues diamond serves more than just a memory; it respects a crucial moment in African American history and ensures the critically significant baseball heritage isn’t erased,” NTHP representative Brent Leggs wrote in a letter to Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “The original placement of home plate will also serve as a tangible lesson and authentic connection in place to many young athletes searching for their own Field of Dreams.”

Stay tuned for Part II next Sunday, February 14, which will feature an exclusive interview with Larry Doby Jr. 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags