(PHOTO CAPTION: Babe Ruth Field (foreground) will be the site of the 2022 Dugan Tournament. — Photo Courtesy Bob Nagy)
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Nine college baseball teams from four states will compete February 3 – 6, 2022, to inaugurate tournament play at the new Majestic Park baseball complex in Hot Springs.
The tournament will be named the Dugan Invitational Tournament in honor of Mike Dugan, the late Hot Springs baseball historian who spearheaded the creation of Majestic Park, according to Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison.
“Teams from Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Oklahoma will compete in the first of what will become a long list of tournaments to be held on this amazing baseball facility,” Majestic Park General Manager Derek Phillips said. “We’ll have 2021 conference champions and conference runners-up competing in a first-class tournament setting.
“South Arkansas University and Henderson State University, both will be on hand. SAU won the [Great American Conference] regular season and HSU won the conference tournament. Conferences represented will be the Great American Conference (GAC), the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) and the Gulf South Conference (GSC).
“Henderson State’s participation is especially significant because Mike Dugan was the former sports information director at HSU.”
“Majestic Park is not wasting any time in fulfilling its mission to provide top notch baseball for our local leagues and to bring new visitors to our community,” Arrison said. “We are now major participants in the sports tourism market for baseball. Majestic Park is going to fulfill its promise of becoming a significant tourism generator for our city.”
The games in the Dugan Invitational Tournament will be played on Babe Ruth Field, presented by Oaklawn, the focal point of the Majestic Park complex. Babe Ruth Field, one of five fields at Majestic, is perfect for high school, college and professional tournament play, with its 400 feet to the centerfield wall and grandstand seating, Arrison said.
Majestic Park sits on the site where The Babe first attended spring training in 1915 with the Boston Red Sox. Ruth, along with scores of other Baseball Hall of Fame members, spent many years in Hot Springs getting ready for the upcoming major league season.
Majestic Park 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 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 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.