Ever been to Hot Springs, Arkansas? Me neither. But Brooks Robinson has – as well as Babe Ruth, Cool Papa Bell, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Monte Irvin, Jackie Robinson, and other baseball greats. But why Hot Springs? And why Arkansas? A few weeks ago I promised to get back to you on that question. But I had to do more research. You see, I have to admit I used to confuse Hot Springs with Warm Springs (though, in my defense, FDR did visit Hot Springs at least once). But once I heard about the Hot Springs Baseball Trail, I knew I needed to learn more.
Hot Springs, AR, was a Spring Training spot for Major League Baseball, Negro League Baseball, and Minor League Baseball teams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Chicago White Stockings’ owner Albert Spalding and player/manager Cap Anson decided their players could benefit from the therapeutic springs in the area. Thus, the White Stockings became the first team to conduct Spring Training in Hot Springs in 1886. Between then and 1938, Major League teams from Chicago to Boston trained there. Negro League teams held Spring Training intermittently in Hot Springs from 1928 to 1955, including the 1928 Kansas City Monarchs, the 1930-1931 Homestead Grays, and the 1944 Baltimore Elite Giants. Other Spring Training sites in Arkansas included Little Rock, Hope, and Pine Bluff.
Who knew there was so much baseball history in Arkansas? Obviously not me. I will definitely put these places on my “Baseball To Do” list.