Hot Springs will be hosting the inaugural Hot Springs Baseball Weekend on March 23 and 24 to celebrate the Spa City’s role as the birthplace of Major League Baseball spring training and its completion of the internationally famous Historic Baseball Trail.
The event will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s historic 500-foot home run during spring training at Whittington Park.
Joining in on the celebration will be the descendants of baseball immortal Babe Ruth and Major League legends Ferguson “Fergie” Jenkins and Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky. Both legends will be participating in a panel discussion about playing in the Major Leagues, according to a release by Visit Hot Springs.
“We will be joined at this celebration by three generations of the Babe Ruth family, including his grandson Tom Stevens, great grandson Brent Stevens, and the Babe’s great great granddaughters,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “Babe Ruth’s daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, was invited but will be unable to attend. She will celebrate her 102nd birthday July 17.”
Two Historic Hot Springs Baseball Trail markers will also be dedicated as part of the weekend celebration. These markers will honor legendary Arkansas-born catcher Bill Dickey, who played for the Yankees from 1928 to 1946, and legendary pitcher Robert “Lefty” Grove, who played for Philadelphia and later the Boston Red Sox from 1926 to 1941.
“On Friday, March 23, we will dedicate the final two plaques in the Historic Baseball Trail to honor the scores of pitchers and catchers who trained in Hot Springs, which is now widely known as The Birthplace of Major League Spring Training,” Arrison said in the release.
The baseball trail traces the location, activities, and information about the hundreds of Major League Baseball players and staff who trained in Hot Springs long before spring training became associated with places in Arizona and Florida.
Here is a complete schedule of the events planned for Baseball Weekend. All events are free and open to the public.
Friday, March 23
- 11:30 AM – Dedication of Baseball Trail Plaques honoring Bill Dickey and Lefty Grove on Whittington Avenue, across from Dryden Pottery.
- 6:00 -7:00 PM – Playing in the Major Leagues panel discussion featuring Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and player-turned-broadcaster Al Hrabosky in Room 208 of the Hot Springs Convention Center. Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist Rex Nelson will moderate all of the panel discussions.
- 7:00 – 7:30 PM – Autograph session featuring Ferguson Jenkins and Al Hrabosky in Room 208 of the Hot Springs Convention Center.
Saturday, March 24
- 11:00 AM – Ceremony at Home Plate celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Babe Ruth’s Prolific Homerun at Whittington Park from across the Arkansas Alligator Farm.
- 1:00 PM – Screening of the Emmy Award-winning Larry Foley documentary film, The First Boys of Spring, which documents the birth of Major League spring training in Hot Springs more than 100 years ago, in Room 208 of the Convention Center.
- 2:30 PM – Baseball in Hot Springs panel discussion featuring the five historians who created the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail: Bill Jenkinson, Tim Reid, Mike Dugan, Mark Blaeuer, and Don Duren. Journalist Rex Nelson will be the moderator for the panel discussion in Room 208 of the Hot Springs Convention Center.
- 3:45 PM – The Life of the Sultan of Swat panel discussion featuring members of the Babe Ruth Family and noted Babe Ruth historians Bill Jenkinson and Tim Reid in Room 208 of the Hot Springs Convention Center.