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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
If you're looking for good old baseball tradition it can be found in downtown Fort Worth at LaGrave Field, home of the Fort Worth Cats. LaGrave Field originally opened in 1926. The field and stadium fell on hard times and a destructive fire, but there are still a few original parts of the 1926 park around.
The Fort Worth Cats are an independent league team and are currently members of the American Association. Since joining the American Association in 2006 they have won two championships. During the late 1910s and early 1920s, Major League Baseball teams would play in Ft. 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.
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You're not going to notice anything out of the ordinary at LaGrave Field. They carry all of your basics from hot dogs, nachos, peanuts and cracker jacks. Most everything is found at pretty reasonable minor league ballpark prices. I did try some of the fajita nachos that were recommended by the staff and they were decent, but nothing to write home about.
For the kids, the Cats carry snow cones, dipping dots and soft serve ice cream.
For the adults you will find a decent assortment of alcohol beverages. From wine and beer to margaritas, there is something for everyone.
I was worried before I showed up that this would be a less-than-great experience. With the suddenly successful Texas Rangers just minutes away, and the beautiful home of the Frisco RoughRiders not far down the road, North Texas residents have their share of games to choose from. However, within just a few minutes of being at the park, I saw I had nothing to worry about.
I definitely love the old school feel of LaGrave Field. They have kept the original 1926 dugouts in and rent them out as dugout suites, for a maximum of ten people for a hefty $400 price tag. Overall, with the old mystique of LaGrave Field, and the mixture of good fans that love the game of baseball, you're guaranteed to have a good experience.
As I mentioned before LaGrave Field is located fairly close to downtown Fort Worth. Actually, the background over the right field wall is the high rises of downtown Fort Worth. You have some options for pre and post game activities.
One of my favorite places is located in downtown Fort Worth, the Flying Saucer. If you're a person who likes a beer and likes variety, then the Flying Saucer is your cup of tea, or should I say beer. With over 120 varieties of beer there is definitely going to be something to enjoy.
Another downtown favorite for most Fort Worth residents is the world's largest honky tonk, Billy Bob's. Make sure to stop by Billy Bob's for a quick game of pool or some free dance lessons. After all, why leave Texas without learning how to two-step? YeeeeeHaaaaw!
I was really surprised at the output of people at the game I attended. This could be because Frisco and the Rangers were both out of town, regardless though a great showing. The fans were great too, knowing when to cheer and boo and working with Dodger the mascot to really get amped up. I saw a lot of people keeping score and the crowd went absolutely bananas when the Cats came back from a 4-2 deficit with a walkoff hit in the bottom of the 9th. Overall for independent league baseball these are some great fans.
This is where I found a problem with the Cats. Luckily getting into the ballpark is not bad at all. It is what they hit you with when you get there that hurts. The Cats charge a ridiculous $5 for parking. It's not in downtown Fort Worth so you're not parking on the street even though it might be cheaper to do so. The Cats definitely seem to have found a perfect place to hit the fan in the wallet. It's sad too because that left a bad taste in my mouth before I even walked in the park.
Bathrooms at the ballpark are plentiful and the concourses are wide enough to make foot traffic an ease.
I can guarantee you will not get your return on the parking for sure. Luckily reserved seat tickets are only $5, except on specialty days. It's a decent return on the investment.
The Fort Worth Cats do have some great fans that with this legendary ballpark provide a great atmosphere. The food and beverages are all fairly priced, and make a trip to LaGrave worth the penny.
One extra point definitely has to go to LaGrave Field because of the history it has. Just to sit there and think about all the legendary greats that crossed that home plate will give you chills.
Another extra point for Dodger the Cat. The fans absolutely love him, and he is my hero for wearing that jet black cat costume that must be brutal in the summer Texas heat.
If you're looking for great traditional baseball with traditional and knowledgeable fans, then the Fort Worth Cats are right up your alley. It is a great old-school field, and will take you back in time.
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