(PHOTO CAPTION: Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young (in dark uniform) is shown with some fellow baseballers at Whittington Park in the early 20th Century.)
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Everyone looking for some outdoor recreation and socialization after a year of COVID-mandated seclusion is invited to turn out Thursday, April 1, for a gigantic game of catch at Baseball Trail Park (formerly known as Whittington Park).
The idea was inspired by a New York Times article describing how a Dallas resident looking for a baseball buddy in early January wound up with a passel of folks tossing around a baseball in what became a large game of catch — the easygoing pastime in which people chunk the horsehide and enjoy each other’s company.
“We thought, ‘What better way for the residents of The Birthplace of Major League Baseball Spring Training to get out and enjoy the fresh air and break the solitude that the pandemic imposed on us for a full year,’” Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder said. “Hot Springs has become internationally known as a baseball town, so a community-wide game of catch made perfect sense.”
Baseball Trail Park, located at 1215 Whittington, is named for the Historic Hot Springs Baseball Trail, which documents how and where scores of future Hall of Famers came to Hot Springs in the late-19th and 20th Centuries for spring training.
Solleder said the game of catch would be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 1.
It’s being organized by the City of Hot Springs Parks and Trails Department, Majestic Park Baseball Fields and Visit Hot Springs. Majestic Park Baseball Fields is the organization helping with the construction of the Majestic Park youth baseball complex at Carson and Belding Streets.
The New York Times article that inspired the Hot Springs Game of Catch said a Texan named Frank Miller, 74, was “wandering around his house holding a baseball, practicing the grips for a slider, curve and cutter . . . and needed to play catch, stat.”
His wife, Alice, posted a note on Nextdoor, the neighborhood app, saying Frank would like to have a partner to throw the ball with. She posted that Frank would be at a Dallas park at a certain time. On the given date about 10 people showed up and they lined up in two lines to toss the baseball back and forth and chat about themselves. After about an hour they broke up the game and pledged to keep on meeting for the game of catch.
“We’re inviting everyone to come to Baseball Trail Park,” Solleder said. “Bring your glove and ball for a casual game of catch. Make friends. Celebrate baseball.
Bonus: It’s free.”
For more information call Bill Solleder at 501-321-2027.