For baseball fans looking for a short get-away, maybe Hot Springs, Arkansas is the place for you. It is about a six hour drive from St. Louis and they are unveiling a new baseball complex with festivities and celebrities on Aug. 27. The Hot Springs website encourages many reasons to visit including the relaxing springs soaking pools. For centuries visitors from around the world have flocked to the natural hot springs to bathe in the healing waters– and now baseball fans con combine relaxation with their favorite pastime.
Free public guided tours of the new Majestic Park Baseball Complex and a community game of catch will be offered Friday, August 27, on the opening day of the 2021 Hot Springs Baseball Weekend.
The Majestic Park sneak peek will be from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public, according to Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison.
“We’re making tremendous progress on construction at Majestic Park,” Arrison said, “and what better time to let our community see what we are creating down at Carson and Belding streets in what will be the premier baseball facility in the region when we open in the fall.
“Baseball Weekend is the perfect occasion for us to show what has been done already.”
Majestic Park General Manager Derek Phillips and Assistant Manager John Muldoon will guide tours of the facility, Arrison said.
“And we invite everyone to bring their baseball gloves and baseballs to play a community-wide game of catch on the fields this marvelous new complex before or after they tour the park,” he said.
“We’ll provide free hotdogs, chips and water for everyone.”
The sneak peek will be the opening event for Baseball Weekend, which runs from August 27 to August 28.
Other events will include the selection of four Dream Teams composed of the best of the best of the hundreds of baseball legends who played or trained in Hot Springs, the documented Birthplace of Major League Baseball Spring Training.
Four of America’s foremost baseball historians winnow the hundreds who played in Hot Springs down to four Dream Teams in a free public selection on Saturday, August 28.
Bill Jenkinson, one of the world’s foremost experts on the life and career of Babe Ruth,
will be joined by baseball historians Tim Reid, Don Duren and Mark Blauer in a panel discussion to select the four dream teams. The historians were joined by the late Mike Dugan of Hot Springs in doing the lengthy research that led to Hot Springs being documented as The Birthplace of Spring Training.
As outlined by Jenkinson, the historians will select members of four “dream teams” related to Hot Springs:
- TEAM ONE: Composed of players who played competitive baseball games in Hot Springs, that team will be led by Babe Ruth and Cy Young.
TEAM TWO: This group will be composed of men who were either born in Arkansas or who lived part of their lives in the state. It will also include players who competed professionally in the “Natural State.” The team will be anchored by Dizzy Dean and Brooks Robinson.
- TEAM THREE: This array of legendary players will include those who starred in the old Negro Leagues and trained in Hot Springs. It will feature Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige.
- TEAM FOUR: The final group will be drawn from those players who either trained or coached in Hot Springs, but never had the chance to play in competitive ball games in the Valley of the Vapors. They will include such legends as Lefty Grove and Stan Musial.
At 9 a.m. August 28 there will be the dedication of a room in the Hot Springs Convention Center named in honor of the late baseball historian and Hot Springs community leader Mike Dugan.
“Mike was a tireless supporter of our city,” Arrison said. “It would take most of a day to outline Mike Dugan’s contributions to Hot Springs, but he was the guiding force in our establishment of Hot Springs as the Birthplace of Major League Baseball Spring Training. And that makes it especially appropriate that we dedicate Room 105 in the Convention Center in Mike’s honor as the opening event for Baseball Weekend, which he helped establish and grow.”
Dugan died earlier this year.
This year’s Baseball Weekend also will feature panel discussions by legends Al (The Mad Hungarian) Hrabosky, fearsome pitcher Rich (Goose) Gossage, legendary baserunner Andre (The Hawk) Dawson and Hall of Fame outfielder Jim Edmonds as the celebrity guests.
For more information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.