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AETN to air 'The First Boys of Spring,' Nov. 30

Posted 24 Nov 2015

'The First Boys of Spring' will premiere on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Beginning in 1886, baseball spring training was held for the first time, not in Florida or Arizona, but in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For portions of five decades many of the game's greats travelled to the Spa City to recover from winter's sedentary indulgence and prepare for the long seasons ahead. 

Narrated by Billy Bob Thornton, the one-hour documentary tells the story of baseball's evolution and the classic teams – including the Red Sox, Dodgers, Pirates, Monarchs, Crawfords and Grays – who made the resort town their springtime home. The film also delves into the rich history of baseball Hall of Famers who worked out, gambled and partied in Hot Springs, including Cy Young, Satchel Paige, Honus Wagner and baseball's first superstar, Mike 'King' Kelly.

A central figure is a young Babe Ruth. While Ruth is now known as 'The Sultan of Swat,' in his early career Ruth was recognized as the game's dominant pitcher and not made a regular part of the Boston Red Sox batting lineup. In March of 1918, Ruth made progress in his efforts to convince management to increase his playing time when he belted a celebrated, 573-foot home run into the Arkansas Alligator Farm. 

The film is written and produced by Larry Foley, Emmy winning professor of journalism and documentary film at the University of Arkansas. 

'The First Boys of Spring' will repeat Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m.

AETN is the premier broadcast venue for Arkansas's independent film producers. The network strives to showcase indie films from and about Arkansans, turning the spotlight to a wide range of topics that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).