The Fort Worth Cats Don’t Deserve To Be Overlooked

The Fort Worth Cats baseball team folded in 2014 and LaGrave Field has been abandoned since then.

The Fort Worth Cats aren’t so much a secret as a team that’s in danger of fading away again, forgotten and unwanted. Not too many years ago, big crowds came to most games. But in recent years, an ownership and league change has threatened the team and its home, LaGrave Field.

Today, however, there’s a glimmer of hope for the team. The new owners seem to be committing some resources and some effort to making the Fort Worth Cats a success, and the crowds are slowly remembering the team they once enjoyed cheering on.

I admit that I’m not a sports fan, but watching baseball in person in a comfortable, not-so-large stadium has a certain appeal. And it’s part of American culture, after all.

About The Fort Worth Cats

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Look closely and you’ll see that there’s room for plenty more spectators at most Fort Worth Cats games. Photo by Gip Plaster.

The Fort Worth Cats are a minor league team born in 2002, but they claim a long history of previous ball clubs in the city. Make no mistake, however: from 1965 to 2002, there was no baseball in Fort Worth. Between 1888 and 1965, various versions of the Fort Worth Panthers or Cats flourished or attempted to flourish.

Today’s team came about because of the vision of businessman Carl Bell, and the team won championships in its leagues — first the Central Baseball League and then the American Association — in 2005, 2006 and 2007. But the economic downturn of the late 2000s, the falling apart of the American Association and Bell’s own financial failings put both the team and LaGrave Field in jeopardy.

After a lot of wrangling and more than one last-minute save, a new team of investors bought both the team and the stadium a couple years ago and has been working diligently to renew interest. Time will tell if enough interest remains to sustain the team, but the new ownership group’s efforts seem to be meeting moderate success.

Don’t let anyone fool you about the history of the stadium in which the Cats play, named an endangered historic facility in 2011. Despite the fact that the home of the Fort Worth Cats is frequently called “historic LaGrave Field”, it’s a simple concrete and metal stadium built in 2001. It was built on the site of the former LaGrave Field, which opened in 1926, was destroyed by fire and then floods in 1949 and was rebuilt in 1950. In 1965, it was abandoned. The current stadium’s home plate is at the location of the original stadium’s home plate, and the old dugouts are still in use as box seats. Everything else about the place was new in 2001.

Fort Worth Baseball From A Unique Perspective

I’ve never been a sports fan, but I like attending events of all sorts. That spurred my initial interest in the Fort Worth Cats and LaGrave Field. I’m always looking for things to do in Fort Worth, and attending a baseball game was something that sounded intriguing.

For a few seasons, we attended several games each season. I would walk the levee behind the stadium when the game got particularly dull and enjoy the concessions, the atmosphere and the antics of Dodger, if nothing else.

In the last couple of years, I’ve attended only a few games. And few others seem to be coming either. While Fourth of July baseball is a still a draw at LaGrave Field, most other games aren’t getting much attention. Worse for me, the gate leading to the levee is locked these days, so there’s nowhere for me to go when I get bored.

The Fort Worth Cats have no association with any major league team, play in a league that no one has ever heard of and aren’t really that good anymore. LaGrave Field is a bit rough around the edges these days, but some efforts are being made to get things in order. When I last attended, a mechanical clock in the outfield was working for the first time in years, but the modestly sized video board that showed close-ups of players, ads and other interesting info was out of order.

Attending a Cat’s game isn’t the same as it used to be. Perhaps it’s cliché to say that the team and the stadium are shadows of their former selves, but the phrase is one of the first that came to mind when thinking about the Cats.

And that’s a shame.

Still, the Fort Worth Cats are standing on ground that’s nearly stable these days, and they deserve at least a chance. If crowds don’t improve, I can imagine that the team will fade quietly away. No one wants that. What else is there to do on, say, a Tuesday night in the summer but head out to the ballpark and see what the local team’s doing? Baseball is an American institution, and the Cats are all we have.

Good To Know

  • Parking is close and easy, and it’s only $5.
  • A Fort Worth Cats game is a family-friendly experience, with some on-field children’s games and easy access to players.
  • Concessions are inconsistent but have improved. A burger vendor and a barbecue vendor have been added — and there are other traditional ballpark food choices too.

For More Information

Fort Worth Cats

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