Hot Springs is a hot spot for baseball
history. So much so that in Spring 2012, coinciding with MLB spring training,
the city will officially inaugurate The Historical Baseball Trail that
documents Hot Springs: The Birthplace of Spring Baseball.
The city was also home territory to several
minor league teams including the Hot Springs Bathers. For those who might want
to learn more, a book has been written about this part of Hot Springs history:
Bathers Baseball: A History of Minor League Baseball at the Arkansas Spa.
Author Don Duren, who grew up in the city and attended many Bathers Baseball
games as a youngster, will have a book signing from 4-6 on Friday Dec. 2, in
Room 201at the Hot Springs Convention Center. The public is invited to meet
Duren and to visit with former members of the Bathers team (including Jack Bales,
Tony Zini, and Ed White).
In his book Duren tells the history of Hot
Springs’ professional baseball teams. The book describes first reported
ventures in minor league baseball in the South. The group played organized
baseball intermittently from 1887 through 1909. Many noteworthy players such as
Mike Ilitch ( who today owns the Detroit Red Wings ( NHL) and Detroit Tigers)
played for the Hot Spring Bathers. There is also some noteworthy African
American history tied into the mix. In 1953, the league banned the Tugerson
brothers, who were African-Americans, from playing for the Bathers. In 1954,
the Bathers became the first team in the league to sign an African-American baseball
player (Uvoyd Reyolds).
Also available at the signing will be
Duren’s book Boiling Out at the Springs: A History of Major League Baseball
Spring Training at Hot Springs, Arkansas. From 1886 up to the 1940s, many major
league teams, minor league teams, and individual players (such as Babe
Ruth) trained in Hot Springs. To
put this scope of history in perspective, in 1911 over 200 professional
baseball players came through the city and more than 45 percent of the people
in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., either played
baseball or were in someway associated with baseball training in Hot Springs.
Local author Orval Allbritton will also sign
copies of his books, including The Mob at the Spa: Organized Crime’s
Fascination with Hot Springs, Arkansas.