School Days in Arkansas

Written by: Cassidy Lent

For a few weeks every February and March, major league teams meet in the sunny and warm states of Florida and Arizona to prepare for the upcoming baseball season. This annual trek south is known as Spring Training and is a time of renewed hope for fans and players alike.

Spring training started back in the 1870s, but it was an expensive endeavor, so it wasn’t until later that all teams participated. However, it wasn’t always held in Arizona and Florida. One of the favorite spring training sites of the early teams was Hot Springs, Ark. Cap Anson brought his 1886 Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs) there to prepare and went on to win that year’s pennant. At some point, teams moved to other sites, but Hot Springs still had a connection to baseball.

This photo, taken on Feb. 16, 1934, is of Doan’s All-Star Baseball School, also known as Doan’s Baseball School. Between 1933 and 1938, promoter Ray Doan ran this baseball school, in which major league managers and players came to teach younger players. Teachers included Dizzy Dean, Pete Alexander, Red Faber, and Rogers Hornsby.

Instructors and students pose with Ray Doan (in suit and tie), who ran Ray Doan’s Baseball School during the 1930s. - BL – 4716.73.42 (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

During the year of this photo, the school had more than 200 students. Fifty-three would go on to receive “diplomas.” They received them for how well they did in school. Of these 53, the St. Louis Cardinals chose eight to tryout with their farm teams. But none of them ever made it to the big leagues.

The school practiced, in part, at Fogel Field – also known as Fordyce Field, McKee Field, and Holder Field – which had been the spring training field of the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates. This field saw the likes of many Hall of Famers, including Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Cy Young.

Cassidy Lent is a reference librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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