North Texas

Looking to the Past and Future at Fort Worth's LaGrave Field After Small Fire

From Babe Ruth to Jackie Robinson, some of the biggest names in baseball history have played at LaGrave Field in Fort Worth.

But it is in sad shape today — overgrown and vandalized — and Wednesday night, a small fire broke out in the concession area. Fortunately, there was no serious damage.

But it’s brought attention back to the stadium, and to the question "will baseball come back to Fort Worth?"

It’s been an open question in the three years since the minor league Fort Worth Cats left town. Thursday night, one of the stadium owners told NBC 5 they are in ongoing talks trying to bring a team back, but can't share details yet.

Meanwhile, loyal fans are rallying, pushing to "save LaGrave."

It's very quiet these days at LaGrave Field — no bats cracking, no cheers and even the diamond has faded away under three-foot grasses and weeds.

"I was just so disappointed that it's being let go, literally," said Trey South.

He’s in town from Houston and brought his son to visit the grounds where Ruth, Robinson, even Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays once played.

"There ought to be a way to protect this place and hopefully preserve it," South said.

That's where Stella Ballard comes in.

"We've got our own little secret right here in Fort Worth," Ballard said.

She was team photographer for the Fort Worth Cats and fell in love with the intimate stadium feel.

"You could be up close and personal with the players," she said.

Seeing it today breaks her heart.

"It's like going back to visit your old home, your childhood home and seeing it in shambles," said Ballard.

She started a Facebook page and it's been lighting up since Wednesday night's small fire.

"There's a lot of people that have a lot of memories attached to that," Ballard said.

Her memories run deep. She's recovering from kidney cancer.

"When I would go back and forth to doctor visits, I would always pass by the stadium the last few years and it was always that little reminder of good memories," said Ballard.

The little things we take for granted, slipping away on a field of dying dreams.

The fire was in the concession area, likely started by someone lighting some old trash in there. Firefighters quickly got it under control and the owner said it only caused about $200 in damage.

The city councilman for the area, Carlos Flores, told NBC 5 the city is not offering incentives at this point, but they do want baseball back at LaGrave Field.

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