Hot Springs native and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton will be the narrator of The First Boys of Spring, a documentary about Hot Springs’ role as the birthplace of spring baseball.
The film is set to have a world premiere this October on the opening night (October 10) of this year’s Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. A second screening will take place October 25 at the Fayetteville Public Library. The film is being directed by Arkansas native Larry Foley, who is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker.
“Billy Bob was born in Hot Springs in 1955, the last year a Negro League team trained in the city,” said Foley via a news release. “He won an Oscar for his own film, Sling Blade. Billy Bob loves baseball and was quite an accomplished player, once getting a tryout with the Kansas City Royals. He hits a home run with his voice-over narration of our film about Hot Springs’ historic role in the development of Major League Baseball (MLB), a walk-off homer!”
Hot Springs is a hot spot for baseball history. So much so that in spring 2012, coinciding with MLB spring training, the city opened its Historical Baseball Trail, which includes a series of 28 historical markers throughout the city that documents the historic associations between some of the world’s most famous baseball players and Hot Springs. The trail was the result of meticulous research by baseball historians and the project was led by Steve Arrison of Visit Hot Springs.
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. There is a neat photo exhibit inside the Hot Springs CVB that also highlights the city’s baseball ties.