Minor league baseball in Little Rock dates back to the late 1800’s.

As early as 1887 by most accounts. A few different nicknames were used early on, but they soon settled on the Travelers.

Future Major League Hall of Famer Tris Speaker spent most of 1908 with the Little Rock Travelers before ending up back with the Boston Red Sox. Speaker is considered one of the greatest baseball players ever.

Other future hall of famers who played for the Travs are Bill Dickey, Travis Jackson, Jim Bunning and Fergie Jenkins.

Other alumni of note from the earlier years are Babe Herman, Bobo Newson and Bo Belinsky. Cal Ripken, Sr. played in Little Rock back in 1961, the year after his son Cal Jr. was born.

By the early 1960’s, they were known as the Arkansas Travelers. Talent continued to flow through the capital city, including Dick Allen, Dallas Green and other Philadelphia Phillies prospects.

The run from 1966 to 2000 as a St. Louis farm club produced some of the best years. Quite a few major leaguers made a stop.

The three Puerto Rican Cruz brothers – Jose, Hector and Tommy – all honed their skills here.

So did pitcher Al Hrabosky, better known as “The Mad Hungarian.”

Former UCA baseball coach Doug Clark also played for the Travs in the early 1970’s.

The 1980’s brought to town a slew of future Cardinal stars including Andy Van Slyke, Tom Pagnozzi, Terry Pendleton, Ray Lankford, Bernard Gilkey and Todd Zeile.

But the best may have come in 2011, when 19-year-old Mike Trout played 91 games for the Travs. The team was then affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels, and Trout would soon be making his mark there.

He won AL Rookie of the Year in 2012 and was runner-up for MVP. He again finished second in MVP voting in 2013 and 2015.

He won MVP in 2014 and 2016, and is a leading candidate to win again in 2018. Must be something about even numbered years.

Trout has put up historic numbers in his young career. He is only 26.

Baseball-Reference.com is a great website full of stats on every player who ever played even a single major league game.

There is a plethora of analytics, rankings and comparisons. They note that the most similar batters to Trout through age 25 are Frank Robinson, Ken Griffey, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron. Pretty good company.

You may not be in that class of player, but you can still enjoy the game, as local softball opportunities are available.

Registration for the city’s Senior Softball League begins soon. Now in its third year, the league is open to those age 49 and older.

Signups are July 16 through 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. each evening at the Conway Sports Center at the Don Owen Sports Complex. Games will be played at Don Owen starting in August.

You can contract Charlie Lemley at clemley0@yahoo.com for more information.