Baseball is a game of superstitions: hitters don't wash helmets while on a streak, and managers don't brush their teeth for weeks after a great argument with an umpire. Discover your own diamond rituals with this GrouponLive deal to see a Fort Worth Cats baseball game at LaGrave Field. For $7, you get one ticket for reserved box seating at any regular-season home game (up to a $14 value). See the full schedule here.
Set to scratch through to a new era as part of the North American Baseball League, the Cats slug and pitch their way into the 2012 season when it opens with an eight-game home stand on May 23. The perennial playoff-contending ball club joins the Southern Division of the NAL after a successful run through the American Association, where they hoisted back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007. This season, former TCU Horned Frog Shelby Ford dons Cats' colors for the first time. A third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006, Ford is expected to anchor the middle of the lineup while scooping up any grounders and tumbleweeds that roll his way at shortstop.
Located just north of downtown, LaGrave Field affords fans shimmering views of the Fort Worth skyline. Game-goers can also scout the antics of Cats' mascot Dodger, whose name is a nod to the team's affiliation with the historic Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1940s and 1950s and the coach’s distant relation, Charles Dickens.
Fort Worth Cats
As legend has it, an 1875 article in the Dallas Herald claimed that a live panther was spotted walking the streets of Fort Worth. The city soon became known as the "The Panther City," so when Fort Worth's first minor-league baseball team was founded, in 1888, calling it the "Panthers"—rather than, say, the "Fighting Dandelions"—just made sense. Over the years, journalists shortened the club's nickname to the "Cats," and the team dominated the Texas League through the first part of the 20th Century, at one point winning six consecutive league titles in the 1920s.
After bouncing between affiliations with several MLB teams, the Cats disbanded in 1964. However, the Cats returned in 2002, almost immediately reliving the success of the previous century and capturing three straight titles from 2005–07. Despite never adopting the Panther name, the modern-day Cats have never lost sight of their history, as evidenced by mascot "Dodger" and LaGrave Field's classic design.