The Williamsport Cubs of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was a team identity that existed in the New York-Penn League for five seasons. For that half-decade, they were a short-season Single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
The dub-Cubs began following the 1993 season when the NY-Penn League’s Geneva Cubs (of upstate Geneva, New York) packed up their gear and drove a little over two hours due south to central Pennsylvania. Williamsport, famous for hosting the Little League World Series at vintage Bowman Field, had been without minor league baseball since the Eastern League’s Williamsport Bills were moved to Binghamton two years prior.
Like Geneva, the Williamsport Cubs were a straight COTOB identity with a spartan branding aesthetic. Uniforms were essentially Chicago’s hand-me-downs, and the team’s logo was the same as the big club’s, but with an added red action swirl and city name stamped over the top. Williamsport was rendered in what appears to be italicized Helvetica font. In a move that is unimaginable in today’s minors, this copy-shop typeface was also included on the cap logo.
On the field, Williamsport had a respectable list of major league alums–better than what is typical for a short-season club in a five-year sample. They struck gold with an 18-year-old Kerry Wood, who made his pro debut with Williamsport–struggling to get outs in a couple of starts after the ’95 draft. Some others who would go on to meaningful big-league careers after their summer at Bowman Field include Justin Speier, Scott Downs, and Eric Hinske, who earned the 2002 American League Rookie of the Year award.
The end of the Williamsport Cubs came when Chicago left town after the 1998 season. Obliged to take on a new identity at a time when unique branding was going full supernova in the minor leagues, Williamsport took on a name that drew connection with the city’s history of being the “Lumber Capital of the World.” The Williamsport Crosscutters play in the New York-League to this day, while the Williamsport Cubs are a mostly-forgotten relic of minor league history.