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NAL adds Fort Worth to South (Texas) Division
December 24, 2011 - Robert Collias
Here is an email we received a few days ago from the North American Baseball League:
> Fort Worth Cats Join North American League >
Former American Association Club Will Be Part of South Division and Former Texas Rangers President Mike Stone Will Be Chairman of BallClub >
> (San Ramon, CA. Dec. 21, 2011) The North American League announced today that the Fort Worth Cats have been accepted as a member of the North American League. The longtime American Association club has been acquired by a group led by former Texas Rangers President Mike Stone, who will be the Chairman of the Ballclub. > > "We are thrilled to have the Fort Worth Cats as a member of the 2012 North American League," said NAL Chief Executive Officer Kevin Outcalt. "It's a first class market and stadium with more than a century of baseball tradition. The new ownership group is very experienced and we look forward to the leadership of Mike Stone to revitalize the brand and the team."
> > The Cats will be the fifth team in the North American League's South Division and will join the San Angelo Colts, Edinburg Roadrunners, McAllen Thunder, and Rio Grande Valley Whitewings all of which are also in Texas.
> About The North American League
> The North American League is the premier independent professional minor baseball league in western North America. With teams in Texas, Arizona, California, Hawaii, and western Canada to provides a high level of baseball and first-class entertainment to fans and families in their communities. Formed through a merger of the Golden, United, and Northern Leagues Over 400 alumni have been acquired by major league baseball or professional international baseball organizations from these leagues and over 40 former major leaguers have played in the NAL last season alone. An independent pro league not affiliated with any major league organizations, NAL team rosters are stocked primarily with AA, AAA, and Major League experienced players. For general information, please visit our League web site at www.northamericanleague.com.
While this is a major population-base addition for the NAL, it appears the team comes with financial baggage for a league that has more than its share of that. This Fort Worth Star-Telegram story says the team recently sold for a loss, was kicked out of the American Association for failure to post a $200,000 letter of credit, and that the ballpark, LaGrave Field that is still owned by the previous owner, faces a foreclosure auction on Jan. 3. Here is Ballpardigest.com's take on the whole thing, with a lot of other links on the history of the events leading Fort Worth to the NAL. The team has no players after being booted and that $200,000 letter of credit sounds like a good idea for the NAL to use to me. In fact, I have suggested as much since Na Koa Ikaika Maui's first season.
And, this was a Fort Worth team that drew more than 3,700 fans per game, but couldn't survive in a far-flung league. Sound familiar? (And remember, Maui doesn't draw 3,700 fans in a week).
So, what does this mean for Na Koa? Hard to say, exactly, since Maui was part of the North Division for the 2011 season and we were told by Outcalt more than six weeks ago that a league schedule would be announced in early December, shortly after the baseball winter meetings that ended Dec. 8.
By my unofficial count, at this point, it appears no more than three teams from the 10-team Golden Baseball League that Maui was a part of for the 2010 season will be around for 2012 — Na Koa, Yuma, and Edmonton.
Also, a $100-per-plate charity dinner that Na Koa had slated for early December featuring Sid Fernandez, Wally Backman and Howard Johnson has been put off until February, something GM Dan Partney told me at a press conference to announce the hiring of Brendan Sagara earlier this month.
On brighter more hopeful notes, Na Koa's hiring of Sagara is a home run and is already paying dividends with the re-signing of Clayton Uyechi. Also, the team's new website is up and running and the franchise has a kiosk selling merchandise in Queen Kaahumanu Center.
Stay tuned. Still five months to spring training.
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