Baseball’s Tie to Hot Springs

Zoie Clift


Did you know spring training was born in Hot Springs?
Yep, neither did I until I came across a photo exhibit highlighting this fact
while wandering downtown. 
According to the exhibit, from 1886 to the early 1940s, Hot Springs
attracted many of baseball’s best teams. In 1886, Hall-of-Famer Cap Anson was
the manager and first baseman of the Chicago White Stockings ( now the Chicago
Cubs).  Anson had heard about the
city’s mineral waters and spas and brought the team there so they could, “boil
out the alcoholic microbes’ in his hard-living players. The players trained by
soaking in the spas, playing baseball, and hiking the mountains.  The team won the pennant that year and
more teams joined them in heading to the city after that.

A regular patron to the city was Babe Ruth. He started coming
for spring training in 1915 with the Red Sox. According to The Life & Times
of Babe Ruth
by Leigh Montville, “The big man worked in spurts. He would play
54 holes of golf, run three miles back to the Hotel Majestic, sweat through a hot
mineral bath, weigh himself, and announce to the nearby world that he had lost
seven pounds. Then he would be stiff and sore for the next three days, eat
well, and put the weight back onto his aching body. Maybe even add weight.” 

Other legendary players who passed through the city for
training included Dizzy Dean, Honus Wagner ( aka “The Flying Dutchman”) , and
Cy Young. If you want to check out the photos, they are inside the Hot
Springs CVB.


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