Every year, Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, led by PR dynamo Steve Arrison, seems to add a new wrinkle to Hot Springs' annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade. For the upcoming eighth annual event on March 17, not only is there a celebrity grand marshal — "Sex in the City's" John Corbett — there's also an appearance by the "World's Tallest Leprechaun"; a wreath ceremony to honor two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner John King, an Irish American buried in Hot Springs; something called "Romancing the Stone" that involves "smooching the Arkansas Blarney Stone," and an official measurement of a nearly century-old home run by Babe Ruth.
Baseball historian Bill Jenkinson will do the measuring in the Weyerhaeuser Corporation parking lot at 847 Whittington Avenue, site of the former Whittington Park baseball field. According to Jenkinson, Babe Ruth "altered the course of baseball history," playing there with the Boston Red Sox during an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on St. Patrick's Day 1918. In the sixth inning, as Jenkinson writes on billjenkinsonbaseball.webs.com, Ruth "unloaded a stupendous drive to right field that passed so far over the fence that it landed across the street in an alligator farm. The blow was so amazing that even the Dodgers stood up and cheered. None of them had ever seen anybody hit a baseball with such astonishing force. It is likely...the longest that had ever been hit (to that time) in the history of baseball."