Fort Worth Panthers 1888-1959, 2002-
Popularly known as the Cats, the Fort Worth Panthers were one of the founding members of baseball’s Texas League in 1888. By 1895 they won the Texas League championship, making them the first professional sports team to earn a title for the city; they also won in 1905 and 1906. The Cats made winning a tradition, bringing the Texas League championship to Fort Worth seven times between 1919 and 1925.
Every year the champion of the Texas League represented the state in the Dixie Series, a post-season contest between a Southern Association team (based in the Southeast) and a Texas team. The Cats dominated this playoff in eight of the ten series that they participated.
The Cats became a city favorite during the 1920s. Local business leaders such as Amon G. Carter often rented trains, allowing fans to follow their team on the road. At home, supporters poured initially into the Cats downtown stadiums (Reservation and Haynes Parks both near the current T&P Building), and later into Panther Park (1911-25) and LaGrave Field (1926-1964).
After World War II, the Cats became part of Major League Baseball’s farm system as affiliates of the Brooklyn Dodgers, reviving the team’s championship runs. By the time that manager Bobby Bragan came to Fort Worth in 1948, the team was doing well even though minor league baseball was in decline. In 1960 the Cats merged with the Dallas team in preparation for bringing a major league franchise to the metroplex. LaGrave Field was demolished in 1967.
The Cats returned to a rebuilt LaGrave Field in 2002, bringing minor league baseball back to Fort Worth after an almost forty year absence.