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May/Jun 2012 Issue

Hot Springs unveils new baseball trail

Spring and a new baseball season are a perfect combination, like a well-executed 6-4-3 double play. Visitors this spring to Hot Springs, Ark., will see a new attraction, the Historical Baseball Trail, that links the popular central Arkansas vacation town to the birthplace of spring training.

In the late 19th century through the early 1940s, baseball teams came to Hot Springs to get into shape for a new season. It was Adrian “Cap” Anson, manager and first baseman for the Chicago White Stockings (later known as the Chicago Cubs), who first brought a team to train in Hot Springs in 1886. They came for the baths, exercise, fresh air, and mild climate.

In fact, researchers have documented that 134 players who are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., either trained or were in some way associated with spring training in Hot Springs National Park. Those players include Babe Ruth, Cy Young, and Honus Wagner. Many Negro League baseball greats also trained in Hot Springs, including Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, and Satchel Paige.

The baseball trail lineup will feature 26 plaques installed at various locations. Each plaque will have a story about the site and a quick response code (QRC) to be used with a smart phone. The code will link trail users to a Web site that gives more details about the location.

For example, visitors can see a trail marker at the Arkansas Alligator Farm on Whittington Avenue that describes a home run Babe Ruth hit. It sailed more than 500 feet out of the park, across Whittington Avenue and into a pond at the farm.

For more information, call (800) SPA-CITY (772-2489) or visit www.hotsprings.org.

Leo Durocher

Leo Durocher, standing, was among the greats who trained in Hot Springs. Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau photo

 


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