Fort Worth Cats
|Fort Worth Cats|
|Location||Fort Worth, Texas|
|Ballpark||LaGrave Field (2002-2014)|
|League championships||3 (2005, 2006, 2007)|
|Ownership||John Bryant and Byron Pierce|
|Media||Fort Worth Star Telegram|
The Fort Worth Cats were a professional baseball team based in Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States. The Cats were a member of the South Division of the now disbanded United League Baseball, which was not affiliated with Major League Baseball. From 2002 to 2014, the Cats played their home games at LaGrave Field.
The Fort Worth Panthers
The Fort Worth Panthers, also called the Fort Worth Cats, were a minor league baseball team which played in the Texas League from its founding in 1888 until 1959. The club won league championships in 1895, 1905, and 1906, but from 1920 - 1925, the Panthers won every Texas League pennant, and defeated the Southern Association champion in the Dixie Series in all but one year.
During the late 1910s and early 1920s, Major League Baseball teams would play in Fort Worth against the Panthers on their way from spring training to their home parks. Texas fans enjoyed watching such major leaguers as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby play in their home town.
The Panthers had a winning streak from 1919 to 1925 when they won the regular season title seven years straight. In 1919 they failed to win the playoff for the season, but represented the Texas League in them for the next six years, in what was known as the Dixie Series. The Dixie Series was a championship series between the league champions of the Southern and Texas Leagues, both of which had established themselves as some of the best in baseball. Because of this, the Series was a big ordeal in the early twenties- Amon Carter and other fans would arrange special trains to ensure the avid fans had transportation to these games. Five of the six Series Championships were won by Fort Worth their only loss coming in 1922 to Mobile.
The Panthers won both the Texas League and the Dixie Series in 1930, 1937, and 1939. Rogers Hornsby was the Panthers' manager in 1942, but World War II put an end to much of minor league baseball.
Doyle Williams, an FBI agent who portrayed Governor John Connally in the Warren Commission's 1964 reenactment of the Kennedy Assassination, briefly played in the Cats organization in the Mid-1930s.
Following the War, the Panthers became a minor league franchise of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1948, the Dodgers sent Bobby Bragan to manage the team, which won its last Texas League and Dixie Series championships. The first African American player to play for the Panthers was Maury Wills, in 1955.
When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957, it caused them to shuffle their minor league teams. The Fort Worth franchise was traded to the Chicago Cubs. In 1959, Fort Worth left the Texas League to join the American Association, but they merged with the Dallas Rangers the following year. Fort Worth regained a Texas League franchise for 1964 only, after which there was no professional baseball in Fort Worth for 36 years.
The Independent Fort Worth Cats
Former Cats' owner Carl Bell commissioned a new ballpark to be built directly on top of the former stadium's location. Home plate is exactly where it was in 1926 when the old facility opened. On May 23, 2002 the Cats opened up the season at the original site of LaGrave Field in their brand new home. While waiting for the new LaGrave Field to be completed, the team played at Lon Goldstein Field.
The team's mascot is Dodger, whose namesake is a tribute to the Cats' affiliation with the great Brooklyn Dodgers teams in the 1940s and 1950s.
Under the management of Wayne Terwilliger, the Cats defeated the San Angelo Colts for the 2005 Central Baseball League championship after beating the Pensacola Pelicans in the first-round playoffs. It was Fort Worth's first championship since 1948. They won both halves with identical 30-17 records, a franchise record for wins in a season. The Cats also made the playoffs in 2003, his first season as manager.
Stan Hough was named the Cats' manager on Dec. 6, 2005, taking over for Wayne Terwilliger, who remained with the club as Hough's first base coach in 2006. Prior to that he was the team's hitting instructor from 2004-05. Prior to the Cats' job, his last managerial job was with the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Class-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles in 2003. He also managed the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx in 2001.
In 2006, the Cats won their second straight title and the first title in the American Association. The Cats beat the St. Paul Saints 3 games to 2 in the championship series.
The 2006 regular season record was 56-39 with a 0.589 winning percentage. Season attendance was 177,894, 46 games, average 3,867 per game.
On Sept. 8, 2007, the Cats defeated the St. Paul Saints 4-1 in the fifth game of the American Association Championship playoffs to capture a second straight American Association Championship. The Cats have won 6 straight decisive Game 5's and are 13-0 in games in which they face elimination the last 3 seasons. They have been down 2 games to 1 in 5 of the last 6 series, winning the first game, losing the next 2 and winning games 4 and 5. They were down 2-0 to the El Paso Diablos in the 2007 Division Series before winning 3 straight at LaGrave Field. Max Scherzer was on the Cats roster in 2007. In 2008 he was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 2007 regular season record was 53-40 with a 0.570 winning percentage. Season attendance was 141,330, 34 games, average 4,157 per game.
The 2008 regular season record was 60-36 with a 0.625 winning percentage. Season attendance was 185,380, 47 games, average 3,944 per game. The team was named Organization of the Year.
The 2009 regular season record was 53-43 with a 0.552 winning percentage. Season attendance was 177,807, 48 games, average 3,704 per game.
The 2010 regular season record was 37-56, with a 0.398 winning percentage. Season attendance was 122,062, 41 games, average 2,707 per game.
The team was managed by Chad Tredaway, assisted by James Frisbie, Pitching Coach, Steve Maddock, Assistant Coach, and Wayne Terwilliger, First Base Coach.
In November 2010, the Cats again hired Stan Hough as their new team manager. Hough also managed the team from 2006-2007, was 109-79, and lead the Cats to the American Association championship in each season.
The 2010 regular season record was 48-52, with a 0.480 winning percentage, and second place in the Southern Division. Season attendance was 108,020, 50 games, average 2,160 per game.
First baseman Trent Lockwood, and Catcher Kelley Gulledge and were named to the American Association Postseason All-Star Team. Heading into the season's final game, Lockwood, in his first season with the team, batted .338 with 20 HR, 90 RBI, a .621 slugging percentage, and has 60 Extra Base Hits. Gulledge was hitting .341 with 14 HR, 71 RBI, 125 hits, and 73 runs. 
In January 2012, Carl Bell and the LaGrave Reconstruction Co. declared bankruptcy, casting doubt on the future of LaGrave Field. Several months later, the debt holder Amegy Bank of Houston foreclosed and became the landlord of the Cats.
In May 2014, the Cats signed 55-year-old Julio Franco. The 1990 All-Star MVP last played professionally in 2008.
Due to an issue between the owner of the property on which LaGrave Field sits and the city of Fort Worth, the Cats were asked to relocate to another stadium after the 2014 season. Team owner John Bryant has stated the Cats intend to play the 2015 season, but acknowledged they might have to relocate to a different city in North Texas.
In December 2014, team owner Bryant stated that if the team cannot find a place to play by January, the team's future is in doubt.
In January 2015, the Cat's league, United League Baseball (ULB) announced it has ceased operations after seven seasons. One of the glaring issues of the ULB in the 2014 season was their inability to draw fans. Brownsville and Rio Grande teams shared Harlingen Field, the Fort Worth Cats played out of LaGrave Field and the the San Angelo Colts played at Foster Field. The league drew an average of about 744 fans a game between the three venues.
Modern championship titles
|2007||American Association||Stan Hough|
|2006||American Association||Stan Hough|
|2005||Central Baseball League||Wayne Terwilliger|
- Number 4 worn by Duke Snider in 1946 - Retired May 23, 2003
- Number 10 worn by Bobby Bragan who played and managed from 1948-1952 - Retired May 21, 2004
- Number 6 worn by Maury Wills in 1955 - Retired June 18, 2005
- Number 1 worn by Sparky Anderson in 1955 - Retired June 17, 2006
- Number 42 worn by Jackie Robinson - Retired July 25, 2007
- Number 5 worn by Dick Williams from 1948-1950 and again in 1955 - Retired June 6, 2008 (see note below)
- The Dolphus Starling, Minnie Lee Williams family: an autobiography 1990, Call number 929.2 WILLIAMS, Ft. Worth Public Library
- "Cats Hire Hough as Manager". oursportscentral.com. November 24, 2010. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "American Association Alumni in Major League Baseball". www.aabfan.com. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "2006 American Association Final Standings". www.aabfan.com. 26 August 2006. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "2007 American Association Final Standings". www.aabfan.com. 25 August 2007. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "2008 American Association Final Standings". www.aabfan.com. 23 August 2008. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "2009 American Association Final Standings". www.aabfan.com. 30 August 2009. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "2010 American Association Final Standings". www.aabfan.com. 29 August 2010. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "Roster page". American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. August 2010. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "2011 American Association Final Standings". www.aabfan.com. 30 August 2011. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "Two Cats Named to American Association All-Star Team". fwcats.com. Oct 29, 2011. Retrieved Oct 29, 2011.
- "Fort Worth Cats Announce Sale". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. October 2011. Retrieved Dec 21, 2011.
- Baker, Sandra (January 2012). "Foreclosure on LaGrave Field put on hold as owner files for bankruptcy". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- "Stray Cats Doing Well After Rescue". Fort Worth Weekly. Aug 1, 2012. Retrieved Sep 20, 2012.
- "Fort Worth Cats suffer sweep in championship ls". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Sep 9, 2012. Retrieved Sep 20, 2012.
- "Fort Worth Cats and LaGrave Field part ways". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Nov 4, 2014. Retrieved Nov 5, 2014.
- "Without a field, the Fort Worth Cats could miss next season". December 10, 2014.
- "United League Baseball Folds After Seven Seasons". Jan 15, 2015. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- Fort Worth Cats - Official site
- Wayne Terwilliger's Home Page
- aabfan.com Fort Worth Cats Guide
- Dodger's webpage - Pictures of Dodger, the Cats' mascot
- aabfan.com - yearly league standings & awards