Play ball! Fort Worth Cats get new owners

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on December 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 21 at 8:39 PM

FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth Cats baseball team got new owners Wednesday.

The Cats trace their roots back to 1888. As entertainment, they've been fun. As a business, not always so much. 

Last summer's heat wave devastated attendance.

"There was some sacrifice and financial investment that will never recover, but that's OK," said businessman Carl Bell. 

He grew up watching the Cats. Then watched them and LaGrave field disappear in the 1960s.  Bell made enough money to build a new LaGrave Field and relaunch the legend a decade ago.

On Wednesday, he sold the team to new owners with deeper pockets.

"What a great day, eh? We could play two today," said a smiling Mike Stone, one of the new owners.  He is a former president of the Texas Rangers.

Stone and former Congressman John Bryant anchor the new ownership group.  Bryant is co-founder of the United Baseball League.

"Our announcement today is we're acquiring the Fort Worth Cats and continuing the tradition," said Bryant. "We wish Carl well working on the stadium issue."

The stadium "issue" is that it's posted for foreclosure. Carl Bell was never able to fulfill his dream to develop about 13 acres around the ballpark. But he's emphatic the property won't be auctioned. He says a deal is close at hand. 

And the new Cats' owners say it doesn't matter who owns LaGrave Field, because they've got a 20 year lease.

"Ninety-nine times out of a 100, the team doesn't own the stadium," Bryant noted.

Former Cats player Jack Lindsey watched the ownership handoff with approval.  Still looking fit, he spends many evenings in the stands.

"In '48, I played shortstop with the Cats. We won the pennant," he boasted.

Wednesday's announcement makes Lindsey feel like a winner all over again... along with thousands of fellow fans. 

The Cats lost their spot in the American Association, so they'll now play in the southern division of the North American League.

New owners hope for a cooler season and bigger crowds for their 48-game home schedule in 2012.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com 

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