Opening of Baseball Trail in Hot Springs
Great news for baseball fans. March 29 marks the opening of a new attraction: The Historical Baseball Trail that documents Hot Springs: The Birthplace of Spring Baseball. “A series of 26 historical markers linked to the very latest digital technology will allow visitors to tour the city and visit places where America’s baseball legends came to play, train and visit during baseball’s golden age,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs in a news release. “ 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 some way associated with baseball training in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.”
“One hundred thirty-four of the 295 members of the Hall of Fame can be associated with training, playing, visiting or otherwise being in Hot Springs, many from the late 19th Century,” Arrison continued. “Five pre-eminent baseball historians have painstakingly documented the Hot Springs connection to what became known as the sport’s spring training.
According to a news release written by Paul Johnson, twenty-six cast-aluminum plaques have been installed all over the city at locations that range from the spot where Babe Ruth in 1918 smacked a home run that traveled 573 feet and landed in an alligator pit at the Arkansas Alligator Farm to the site of the hotel where Ruth flipped a coin with his manager to determine Ruth’s salary for the next year.
At each location, the plaque will contain a QRC code that allows smartphone users access an audio narration that adds more information about the plaque’s significance in American baseball history. A website has also been created that allows access to a complete list of the plaques, with the ability to click on a specific site to learn more information related to that location and the player or players associated with it.
A free brochure showing the plaque locations and how to reach them will also be available at the Visitor Center in Hill Wheatley Plaza.
According to Arrison, what began as a curiosity about why there were so many photos of Babe Ruth at various locations in Hot Springs wound up unearthing a trove of historic associations between the world’s most famous baseball players and the city.
“The idea emerged that we needed to let the people of America know about the people, places and events that made Hot Springs a key element in the growth of America’s pastime,” he said in a news release.
There will be three ‘entry points’ to the trail: Hill Wheatley Plaza, Oaklawn Racing & Gaming and Whittington Park. For more details contact Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.