Play ball, Waco!

The name and logo for BlueCats, Bellmead’s Southwest League of Professional Baseball team, was selected on from over 700 different submissions. BlueCats are a nod to the largest species of North American catfish, popular in the Brazos River and Lake Waco. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ventura Sports Group

For the first time in 60 years, there will be a professional baseball team playing with the city of Waco’s name on their jerseys.

This new independent league team will be called the Waco BlueCats and will be located in Bellmead. This team will be a part of the Southwest League of Professional Baseball, which will debut in the spring of 2018.

The city put up a community vote on what the name of the minor league ball club would be named. Out of the 1,800 submissions that were sent in, the BlueCats came out the winners. BlueCats field manager Stan Hough was happy to see the community be involved with the team already.

“We’re thrilled to have the community so engaged in the process of choosing the name after a 60-year absence of professional baseball (in Waco),” Hough said.

The BlueCats are set to play in The Ballpark at Bellmead, which will be an $11 million multi-purpose ballpark with a capacity of 2,000 to 4,000 seats. This ballpark will have many features including artificial turf, a childrens’ play area and luxury suites. The Ballpark at Bellmead will also potentially host a multitude of events, including D-II, D-III and junior college baseball, as well as professional soccer matches, rugby, concerts, festivals and high school football.

The winner of the naming contest was Waco resident Steve Fischer. With his winning submission of the BlueCats name, he was awarded with lifetime season tickets for the BlueCats’ games. However, this isn’t his family’s first rodeo in selecting professional ball club names.

Fischer’s grandfather, Houston resident Bill Neder, won a contest that named the Colt .45’s of Houston in 1962 prior to their name change in 1965 to the current name Houston Astros.

“Naming professional baseball teams must run in my blood,” Fischer said.

This is the first team that has been announced to join the Southwest League, a brand new independent league that will host several mid-sized city teams. SWL president Mark Schuster is excited to bring baseball back to the Waco area for the first time in over half a decade.

Schuster said he is ecstatic for both the choice that the area has made for the name and look of the new team.

“We love the name and the logo,” Schuster said. “The chosen name met all three criteria for selection, including the name having some tie to the Waco market, the nickname being unique to professional baseball team names, and it’s a name that kids will embrace.”

The last time Waco had a baseball team was in 1956 when the Waco Pirates played their final game in Waco at Katy Park which now is home to a parking lot for Magnolia. The ballpark opened its gates on April 6, 1905, and closed its doors in 1956. A decade later, the ballpark was demolished to make way for a parking lot.

Fans can begin to purchase official BlueCats caps on the team website starting at 9 a.m. Friday at Fans can also purchase season tickets at this time by calling (254) 709-2995.