Prince William/Potomac Cannons
The Cannons of Woodbridge, Virginia, played sixteen seasons in the Carolina League, serving as a Single-A affiliate of four major league teams. For all of those years, the team played exclusively in Woodbridge’s G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium (“the Pfitz”) and used two different place names: Prince William from 1989-1998 and Potomac from 1999-2004. Since the team kept the same geographic location, nickname, and basic branding scheme when switching place names, by MLG standards, they are considered the same team identity.
The Cannons were first lit after the 1988 season, when the Prince William Yankees switched from a COTOB to a unique identity, despite remaining affiliated with New York. The Prince William place name was a reference to Virginia’s Prince William County, where Woodbridge is situated. The Cannons’ inaugural visual branding was very similar to that of their predecessor–essentially a Yankees look, but with a bit more red thrown in. Their cap logo was a twist on New York’s timeless interlocking NY, but with a similarly-rendered interlocking PW.
They stayed affiliated with the Yankees up through the 1993 season, in an era where New York had three full-season Single-A affiliates, with the others in Fort Lauderdale and Greensboro. That’s something that’s impossible in today’s minors, as now each MLB team has one affiliate each at both of the full-season Single-A levels. Several future big-leaguers took to the Pfitz turf in those five Yankees years, including Brad Ausmus, J.T. Snow, Sterling Hitchcock, Carl Everett, and in the same 1993 season–both Andy Pettitte and his battery partner Jorge Posada.
The PW cap only lasted one season before being replaced by a simple letter C for Cannons. By ’92, the C was gone in favor of a memorable and somewhat bizarre logo featuring a detailed, wheeled cannon that could be called realistic, if not for the fact that the cannon is firing a baseball and has a whole pile of the cowhide ammunition neatly stacked in a nearby pyramid.
After the 1993 season, Prince William signed a PDC with the Chicago White Sox. This affiliation lasted a quick three years, but featured players such as Mike Cameron, Magglio Ordóñez, and, for what it’s worth, Pete Rose Jr.
Prince William signed on with St. Louis for the 1997 season, and updated their brand at the same time. Though they kept the fairly conservative black/white/gray look, they added in a purple hue, border-lining on burgundy, to use as an accent color. They also updated their word fonts and logos. The realistic cannon was fired from its position as cap logo, and a letter C returned to replace it. It was very similar to the C of the early nineties, but with one big difference–resting within the comfortable curve of the letter was an anthropomorphic cannonball with big white eyes and a smile, wearing a pinstriped-baseball uniform and showing off some baseball equipment. This little guy would roll with the Cannons for the rest of their days.
By the late nineties, there were hot rumors that the Cannons would be moved to a new stadium, perhaps in a neighboring county. Whether it was in anticipation of this, or as a threat to try to get taxpayers to pony up, the Cannons’ place name was changed from Prince William to Potomac, taking on a broader, regional identity that could encompass the whole Potomac River Valley. They didn’t overhaul their visual brand to go with the Potomac designation, though they did add in more of the purple to their uniforms, including a purple-crowned cap.
The affiliation with the Cardinals lasted a solid six seasons, and yielded some notable alums, including Adam Kennedy, Rick Ankiel, Coco Crisp, Dan Haren, and some guy named Albert Pujols. This period was followed by a two year stint with the Cincinnati Reds, which managed to produce two excellent future big-leaguers in Edwin Encarnación and the great Joey Votto.
The Cannons identity was blasted off into the oblivion following the 2004 season, when the team affiliated with the nascent Washington Nationals. This serendipitous regional relationship lent itself well to the COTOB treatment, especially at a time when the Nationals were trying to stir up interest in their new brand. The team played as the Potomac Nationals for fifteen years before moving to south to Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Fredericksburg Nationals play in the Carolina League to this day.