This morning, I drove into Fort Worth to have breakfast with a friend. On my way back home, I took a detour into the city’s historic Northside to get some pictures of a locally famous baseball venue, LaGrave Field.
LaGrave has fallen on hard times. The independent Fort Worth Cats, long ago a minor league team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, went belly-up and was later recreated by an owner with no money who did not pay his bills.
The last departure of the Cats, circa 2014, appeared to be its last breath as rumors spread that LaGrave was to be sold off to a developer who wanted to add some more drive-in theaters — themselves a relic of long ago — next door.
Until recent news, I assumed LaGrave was long gone. A local group of benefactors, however, formed a committee to “Save LaGrave” and has cleared some important hurdles to restore the field and establish a new Fort Worth Cats team, possibly as early as the 2020 season.
As shown here, there is a lot of work to be done.
My last visit to LaGrave was during the 2013 season. The highlight of that summer was the weekend when the Canseco brothers, as in Jose and Ozzie, squared off in a Home Run Derby during the 7th inning stretch. Jose was playing for the Cats that weekend, and brother Ozzie was managing the Cats’ opponent, a team from the Rio Grande Valley.
It was a great spectacle for the locals, numbering around a thousand in attendance for this one game. Jose hit more homers, but Ozzie was declared the winner at Jose’s insistence.
My wife went with me to a few games. On “dog night” we brought our “kids”, Calhoun and Libby, and had a great time. The canines made some friends while there, and they ate a lot of peanuts.
If the new developments at LaGrave continue to give life to the hopes of many a Fort Worth resident, and if the Fort Worth Cats is reconstituted into an independent league team, it will have to contend with the opening of the new stadium for the Texas Rangers in 2020. It will require a minimum of $2 million just to restore the field into playing condition and the seating/concourse area into a desirable place for families to spend a hot summer evening in Texas.
Additionally, it will require team ownership with deep enough pockets to pay its vendors, its players, and a skeletal management, administrative, and public relations corps while keeping its ticket prices reachable for residents of Fort Worth’s northside, instead of trying to appeal to suburbanites who are weekend attenders, at best, many of whom would rather attend Rangers games in the new stadium.
If all of it comes together, I’ll buy one of the first pair of season tickets in the inaugural season of the next version of the Fort Worth Cats. You’ll hear a lot more about it when it happens.