Before the Grapefruit League or the Cactus League, Major League Baseball trained in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1886, the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) became the first team to train in Hot Springs. Players believed that the healing waters of the Hot Springs mineral baths would loosen their arms, and perhaps open their pores to let the alcohol consumed in the off season seep out! In order to receive the full healing effect of the baths, one must be taken daily for 21 days – why pitchers and catchers still report early! Players also enjoyed attending races at Oaklawn, gambling at one of the many Hot Springs clubs, and mountain climbing and golf.
Nearly half the players in the MLB Hall of Fame trained in Hot Springs. Some of the best known names range from Cy Young, to Babe Ruth, to Stan Musial. The Negro League teams also trained in Hot Springs. Teams started coming to Hot Springs in 1886 and continued to do so for nearly 8 decades. The MLB Network will replay “The First Boys of Spring”, a documentary that chronicles Hot Springs’ place in baseball history, at 9a.m. EST Sunday, February 21, 2016.
If you want to learn more about Hot Springs’ baseball story, follow the Historic Baseball Trail all around the city. A self-guided trail that you can follow by phone, QR code, or a downloadable app, you’ll see where Babe Ruth hit his 573-foot home run (right into the Alligator Farm!); Hank Aaron played in a Negro League World Series game; and Honus Wagner coached the local high school basketball team.
It has been said that a visit to Hot Springs should be as important to baseball fans as visiting Cooperstown. While here, consider staying with us. After all the excitement of the Historic Baseball Trail, you can relax in the peacefulness of Tiffany’s Bed and Breakfast.