Hot Springs a Hot Spot for Baseball History
Hot Springs is a hot spot for baseball history. So much so that in Spring 2012, coinciding with MLB spring training, the city officially opened the Hot Springs Baseball Trail.
The city was 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. In the book author Don Duren, who grew up in the city and attended many Bathers Baseball games as a youngster, 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 played for the Hot Spring Bathers. There is also some noteworthy black history tied into the mix. In 1953, the league banned the Tugerson brothers, who were black, from playing for the Bathers. In 1954, the Bathers became the first team in the league to sign a black baseball player (Uvoyd Reyolds).
Duren is also the author of 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.