(PHOTO CAPTION: Sculptor Chad Fisher of Fisher Sculpture works on a portrait study for the eight-foot Babe Ruth monument.)
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — The world’s third bronze statue of baseball immortal Babe Ruth is now being created for installation at the entrance to Hot Springs’ new Majestic Park baseball complex.
“It’s hard to realize that there are only two bronze statues of Babe Ruth in the entire world,” said Dr. Robert Muldoon, a member of the board of directors of the Friends of Majestic Park, a new group that was formed to support Majestic Park. “One of the statues is outside Camden Yards in Baltimore and the other one is in Japan.
“It’s amazing that there are only two statues for an athlete whose mere name inspires headlines like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and very few others.
“Hot Springs, Arkansas, is going to change that and honor Babe Ruth by erecting an eight-foot bronze monument of him at the entrance to Majestic Park, which sits on the site where The Babe first attended spring training with the Boston Red Sox. Ruth, along with other Hall of Fame members, spent many years in Hot Springs getting ready for the upcoming major league season.”
Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, said the statue is certain to become a tourism attraction in its own right.
“Baseball fans from everywhere will come to see this monument to the most famous man who ever played the game,” Arrison said. “It will outlast all of us and stand tall in front of Majestic Park for future generations to remind them of the history of the site and our community.”
The Friends of Majestic Park are seeking contributions to fund the statue, which is being created by noted sculptor Chad Fisher of Fisher Sculpture, who was selected from a group of 10 artists who submitted proposals for the statue.
No public funds are being used to fund the statue, and four donors are being sought to contribute. For information about donating to the Babe Ruth statue project, call or write to the Friends of Majestic Park, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, at 501-620-5023 or P.O. Box 6000, Hot Springs, AR 71901. All gifts are tax deductible.
The idea for forming the Friends of Majestic Park was that of Mike Dugan, the late Hot Springs resident who was one of the country’s leading baseball historians and the person who led the effort to establish Hot Springs as The Birthplace of Major League Baseball Springs Training. Dugan passed away earlier this year.
Dugan’s goal was to advocate for the establishment of the Majestic complex and to create a group of private citizens that would continue to support the park and its connection to Hot Springs’ history.
Noted Babe Ruth historian Bill Jenkinson, who also was instrumental in researching Hot Springs’ role in baseball history, has been consulting with the artist Chad Fisher on the Babe Ruth statue project to ensure that every detail is accurate.
The sculpture will depict Ruth in his New York Yankees uniform just after he has swung the bat, watching as another home run sails toward the outfield fence.
The image of Ruth that will be used for the monument will be unveiled at the Hot Springs Convention Center in September.
Work is progressing on the Majestic Park complex, and teams will begin using the facilities in 2022 for state and regional tournaments and games for local teams. It is a five-field complex located on the site of the former Hot Springs Boys and Girls Club and was the site of one of the first spring training sites in Major League Baseball history. The Detroit Tigers first used it for spring training in 1908 and Babe Ruth attended his first training camp as a member of the Boston Red Sox on this site in 1915.
Henry (Hank) Aaron, Jackie Robinson and many other Hall of Famers played and trained at the Majestic Park site. Nowhere else in the country can a young person playing baseball say he or she played on the exact site where the legends of the sport played.
All five of the Majestic Park baseball fields will have artificial turf infields and outfields with MUSCO Lighting. The Championship Field will also accommodate college, high school and professional play.
The history of Majestic Park, located at Carson and Belding Streets in the center of Hot Springs, is a rich and colorful one.
In 1909 the Boston Red Sox leased the property and it was named Majestic Park after their spring training headquarters downtown in the Majestic Hotel. Ruth attended his first spring training as a Red Sox player at the site in 1915.
From 1908 through 1918 the site hosted spring training games for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Browns. Twenty Major League exhibition games were played at the park.
The Ray Doan Baseball School and the George Barr Umpire School were held at Majestic Park. Instructors included Dizzy and Paul Dean, Grover Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, Cy Young, Tris Speaker and Schoolboy Rowe. Legendary female Olympic gold medalist and LPGA champion Babe Didrikson attended one of the schools. Didrikson was universally regarded as the greatest female athlete of all time, excelling in track and field, baseball, basketball and golf.
Jaycee Park was built on the site in 1947 and served as the home field for the Hot Springs Bathers (Cotton States League) from 1947 to 1955. Jackie Robinson played in an exhibition game there in 1947.
In 1952, a game in the Negro League World Series was played at the site when the Indianapolis Clowns faced the Birmingham Black Barons. The Clowns featured an 18-year-old shortstop named Henry (Hank) Aaron.
Majestic Park is part of Hot Springs’ rich history as The Birthplace of Major League Baseball Spring Training. The Historic Hot Springs Baseball Trail includes a guided tour of locations throughout the city that were the sites of significant events during the late 19th Century and up until the mid-20th Century when Hot Springs was the favored training site for 50 percent of the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Historical markers at these locations guide visitors through the colorful history of the game as it played out in Hot Springs. A block-long mural at Convention Boulevard and Malvern Avenue in the downtown area illustrates the legends of the game who played in the city.
For more information contact Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.