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Fort Worth Flashback: Cats have winning history

Posted May 21, 2012

fwcats1895.jpg

The Fort Worth Panthers, also called the Fort Worth Cats, were found in 1888. The club won Texas League championships in 1895, 1905 and 1906, but from 1920 to 1925, the Panthers won every Texas League pennant and defeated the Southern Association champion in the Dixie Series in all but one year.

This photo shows the 1895 championship team.

During the early part of the 1900s, Major League Baseball teams would play in Fort Worth against the Cats on their way from spring training to their home parks. Local fans enjoyed watching such major leaguers as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby.

The Cats had a winning streak from 1919 to 1925 when they won the regular season title seven years straight.

Newspaper publisher Amon Carter and other fans would arrange special trains to ensure the avid fans had transportation to important games.

Rogers Hornsby was the Cats’ manager in 1942, but World War II put an end to much of minor league baseball.

Following the war, the Cats became a minor league franchise of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1948, the Dodgers sent Bobby Bragan to manage the team, which won its last Texas League and Dixie Series championships. The first African-American player to play for the Panthers was Maury Wills in 1955.

When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957, they shuffled their minor league teams. The Fort Worth franchise was traded to the Chicago Cubs. In 1959, Fort Worth left the Texas League to join the American Association, but merged with the Dallas Rangers the following year. Fort Worth regained a Texas League franchise for 1964 only, after which there was no professional baseball in Fort Worth for 36 years.

The Cats’ 2012 season begins at 7:05 p.m. May 23 at home against Rio Grande Valley.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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