Buck Ewing, the first catcher ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, was arguably the best all around player of the 19th century. Ewing rose to stardom in 1883 as a member of the New York Gothams who later became known as the Giants. He finished his 18-year career with a .311 lifetime batting average and in 1883 Ewing became the first player to hit 10 home runs in one season.
In 1892, Buck suffered an arm injury that caused him to visit some of the most prominent doctors in New York City. None of the various treatments of the time eased Buck's pain, so he travel to spring training in Hot Springs where he consulted with six physicians at the Army-Navy Hospital, also known as the Government Hospital, which is now the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center located directly in front of you on the hill. These physicians examined his arm and prescribed mechanical massage and electricity treatments.
Taking their advice, Buck began the treatments along with a running program through the Hot Springs Reservation. He also took the hottest baths that he could stand while breathing in the vapors.
Later in February during Spring Training, Buck decided to test his arm in a benefit scrimmage game. According to a newspaper account when he arrived at the ball park many other major league players gathered around him. After his terrible injury, they thought that when he threw the ball, his arm would fall off. Instead, his arm retained its position and there was no pain. He threw again and again and his right arm was as strong as ever.
Buck Ewing retired as a player in 1897. In looking back at his career the Reach Guide of 1919 said “that he was a player without a weakness of any kind.” A career that might have ended in 1892 had it not had been for Spring Training in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas!