It’s #FlashbackFriday and thanks to reader Shaun G.'s recommendation, we’re taking a look back at a Cowtown landmark: LaGrave Field, the home of the Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball team.
Up to bat
Originally known as the Fort Worth Panthers, the team played from 1888 to 1964 — winning the regular season title every year from 1919 to 1925 — and from 2002 to 2014.
The team first played in Panther Park, where Amon Carter had visitors brought in by train, on the north side of town just off Main Street.
Who’s on first
After winning six consecutive titles, the club owners decided to build a new ballpark.
The first 12,000-seat LaGrave Field opened in 1926 a few blocks away from Panther Park and was named after Texas Leaguer and team business manager Paul LaGrave.
The Panther’s success brought baseball legends including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Jackie Robinson to the stadium. In 1932, the team was renamed the Fort Worth Cats.
In a pickle
In May of 1949, both fire and flooding damaged the stadium and it was torn down and reconstructed with 13,005 seats in July of 1950. Sadly in the late 1960s, minor league baseball declined in Fort Worth, causing the club to close and the stadium to be torn down again in 1967.
Fortunately, the team was revived in 2001 by Carl Bell, and the stadium was reconstructed a year later in the same place, making it the only ballpark in America to house four dugouts. However, in less than 15 years, the team was defunct again and the stadium seats were left empty.
Three strikes, you’re out
In 2019, the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) launched a $3.5 million campaign to revitalize the graffiti-covered stadium with Save LaGrave Foundation. Still, the effort was canceled in 2020 after deadlines were missed.
The property, currently owned by TRWD, sits desolate but could be looped into the future plans for the Panther Island project.
Call the pitch
We asked our readers what they would do with the vacant ballpark, and here’s what you said.
Over 120 readers said to bring back the Cats or pull in an MLB farm team.
Others suggested using the field for college, high school, or community games. If not baseball, the field could once again be the home for the Fort Worth Vaqueros FC, the amateur soccer club’s original stadium.
Thirty-five readers thought the site should be redeveloped as part of the Panther Island project or converted into a different community resource. Suggestions included a site for outdoor movies or concerts, a green space, or a farmers market. Shoutout to the reader who called it the “diamond of Fort Worth” — we totally agree.