Fort Worth, TX
Review by Mike
Lagrave Field was the home of the Fort Worth Cats of the Central League. There was once a ballpark in Fort Worth called LaGrave Field and a team called the Cats. They last played in the 1960s. In 2001, the Cats returned to Fort Worth and, in 2002, LaGrave Field was reincarnated. Gary and I visited in 2002, before a roof was added the following season. The Cats folded in 2014 and, sadly, the ballpark has suffered from decay and vandalism. There is talk of bringing it back to life and returning independent baseball to this historic location and I can only hope that this comes to pass.
There was a great sense of history in the way the new Cats organization built their franchise. It started with taking the name of the original team and donning the same style uniforms. Then they chose to build the new ballpark on the same site as the old ballpark with the same name. As if to drive home the fact that new LaGrave stands on the site of old LaGrave, when they began clearing the building site they discovered the original dugouts under the weeds. These were incorporated into the design of the park and served as below-field level party suites.
The ballpark is nicely done. It is small and intimate, just the right size for independent baseball. A basic seating bowl runs from 1st base to 3rd base with a nice pitch so all of the seats are good ones. Beyond the first base end of the grandstand is more seating and a grass berm. The left field side has a separate seating area that runs to the foul pole. It's all very close to the action.
A fairly straightforward little park is given its identity by the right field pavilion, which features a completely useless, but architecturally wonderful roof. It's useless because the stands face the setting sun and the roof will only provide shade if they are playing the game in the morning. Regardless, it looks great and defined the ballpark before the rest of the roof was added. The Fort Worth skyline is easily visible beyond this right field pavilion and the setting sun reflecting off the glass towers is a wondrous sight.
In that first season, full of hope and optimism, the stands were full, the crowd boisterous and LaGrave Field was a shiny new independent league gem, worthy to bear the name of the classic old park for which it is named. It deserves a better fate than it has endured.
I don't care at what level you are playing, there are few things more exciting than a walk-off Grand Slam!
"LaGrave Field was such a welcome change to see Cats baseball after seeing them play for one season at Lon Goldstein Field, a high school ballpark whose entire seating area was enclosed by a chain link fence. This included having a fence overhead, to protect the unsuspecting fan from foul balls and any other objects falling from the Texas skies. I liked LaGrave Field for it's openness and the high berm along the left field wall that served as a barrier from the Trinity River. There was a path running along it from which walkers and joggers could stop and catch some of the action during games.”
The LaGrave Field referenced in the above Negro League Fact is the original ballpark, which served Fort Worth from 1926 to 1965.