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Majestic Park to host MLB Jr. HRD

by Bryan Rice | May 26, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
A player for the Express Employment Grizzlies watches the ball from the First Arkansas Insurance Lugnuts pitcher on Hank Aaron Field at Majestic Park in 2022. - Photo by James Leigh of The Sentinel-Record

Majestic Park will be filled with the sound of home runs and cheering from Cy Young Field Wednesday at the Major League Baseball Junior Home Run Derby.

The MLB Jr. HRD comes to Hot Springs for the fourth year with a free home run derby for baseball players and with 12-and-under and 14-and-under divisions.

"It is a program ran through Major league baseball," National Park College athletic director Rich Thompson said. "I have run it for about three or four years in conjunction with my NPC camp, but this year the cutoff is now later and my camp is a little bit later. We had to sneak this thing up a little bit."

Thompson brought the program to Majestic Park.

"Obviously," Majestic Park General Manager Derek Phillips said, "baseball has really taken off in the last couple of years with the growth in our program."

Thompson said he saw the MLB Jr. HRD advertised in the past.

"I said that I would do it through their program," Thompson said. "This is going on our fourth year of having it. It has been a fun thing for the kids. They really enjoy it."

The fence requirement for the Jr. HRD is 200 feet. Cy Young Field is 200 feet to centerfield and 188 feet at the corners.

"Cy Young is the small field," Phillips said. "So, there should be some home runs hit for sure."

Every player will be thrown 25 pitches or have three minutes to hammer as many homers as they can. No need to bring a pitcher, the Jr. HRD is fed by a pitching machine.

"We are going to do 50 miles per hour at 50 feet," Thompson said. "They will hit as many home runs as they can and there will be a playoff with the two top kids, kind of like the real Home Run Derby. There is a certificate for our local winner."

The winner of the Hot Springs derby advances to a regional derby.

"The last few years we have sent our winner from Hot Springs to the region in Dallas," Thompson said. "They get to compete against all of those kids in that tri-state area. The winner of that one actually gets to go to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game."

If they are skilled enough to slam a victory at the regionals, they earn an all-expenses paid trip for them and a parent for the National Finals.

"I will tell anybody Majestic Park is for the best player in town that lives in Hot Springs, the worst player in town and everyone in between," Phillips said. "Fun and free encourages those kids to come out, maybe have a good time, maybe love it. I really think it encourages all kids to come participate."

Finals will take place at T-Mobile Park during the MLB 2023 All-Star weekend.

"It is a challenge for a lot of the kids," Thompson said. "For those 12-year-olds, you got to hit it pretty good and for those 14-year-olds, the field is somewhat short. That is good though if you want to hit home runs."

The young players will see if they have what it takes to advance through the different competitions.

"I think it is a really cool situation for a kid to feel like they have accomplished something," Thompson said. "Getting to go to a Major League Baseball All-Star Game is a special event. Anytime as a fan, but if you get to go and participate and be involved, I think it is even more special."

A Jr. HRD is an opportunity to help grow the game and boost enthusiasm of young players who dream of smacking one out of a Major League park one day.

"Extra fun stuff like this, I think encourages every kid to get out and do something," Phillips said. "There was kind of beginning to be a travel ball only type thing, which is sort of viewed to be elite players only. I think free events and fun events like this that just encourage any level of player."

The home run derby starts at 5:30 p.m. Signups are preferred at, but walk-ins are accepted.

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