Three local businessmen were recently presented with maquettes, or miniature replicas, of the Babe Ruth statue at the entrance to Majestic Park for providing the funds for the project.
Lee Beasley, Dr. Robert Muldoon and Scott Hamby, who was representing the Hamby family, were all presented with the models created by Pennsylvania sculptor Chad Fisher, who created the larger-than-life bronze statue of the Sultan of Swat.
"It's just a smaller version of the Babe Ruth statue, the 8-foot tall, 1,500-pound version," Steve Arrison, Visit Hot Springs CEO, said. "The artist, as part of it, made smaller maquettes. They're real heavy. They probably weigh 50 pounds apiece because they're bronze, just like the statue, and he made those to give to the donors that made the Babe Ruth statue a reality."
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The Friends of Majestic Park, the nonprofit organization that commissioned the statue, held a benefit golf tournament at Hot Springs Country Club on Nov. 3 and presented the statues before the event, Arrison said.
The three families funded the entire project.
"Our director of Cultural Affairs, Mary Zunick, helped put out the request for proposals nationally to find an artist," he said, noting Visit Hot Springs helped facilitate the project.
"The committee, which was a volunteer committee from the Friends of Majestic Park, they picked the artist. We helped them raise the money, and thank goodness it wasn't that difficult. We had three local business people -- hometown boys, Dr. Robert Muldoon, the Hamby family, Scott and Banks Hamby and Lee Beasley," he said. "The three of them stepped up and funded the whole project."
Unveiled earlier this year on the famed slugger's 128th birthday, the statue has already become a tourist attraction, Arrison said.
"We get a lot of people go by to look at the statue. Is it gonna overtake Oaklawn or Garvan (Woodland) Gardens or the museum or the national park? No, but it's out there," he said.
"It was featured in TrueSouth, the big ESPN special that was just done on Hot Springs, that 30 minutes. ... I think the word is getting out, and it just enhances and reinforces the message of Major League Baseball's connection to Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas."
The statue shows Ruth, who trained and played at the location of Majestic Park starting in 1915, watching a home run fly over the fences. This is the third bronze statue of the slugger in the world; the other two are outside Camden Yards in Baltimore and in Japan.