19. Southern and Ohio Clubs

The Hot Springs night life was not something Major League teams wanted their players to indulge in. But while they came for workouts and steam baths, nightlife was still a big part of the Spring Training experience in Hot Springs. Two of the better known nightspots were the Southern Club and the Ohio Club. The Southern Club opened in 1893 as a grand example of the lavish gambling clubs of the time. Consisting of a private gambling club, bar, and restaurant, it was one of the best known clubs in America for its lively bar and casino. After a person entered The Southern Club they would ascend a grand stairwell to the casino and card rooms. The Southern Club sat where the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum is located now. The Ohio Club, still operating in the same location since 1905, was also a private club with a saloon and gambling. Inside the current Ohio Club the original bar that was floated down the Mississippi River in two pieces for the grand opening is still in use. Many a ball player has bellied up to that Ohio Club bar. The horse races, illicit casinos, the women of leisure and the mixed cocktails gave visiting ballplayers something to do as they were feeling better from their treatments. Rabbit Maranville, the Boston Braves shortstop, and iconic baseball manager John J. “Mugsy” McGraw were two of many ballplayers that sampled the Hot Springs night life.