September 5 - The Potomac Nationals’ final game at Pfitzner Stadium was played last week, marking the end of a 36-year era for the club at the Woodbridge ballpark.
The impending move marks an end of nearly four decades in Prince William County, as the club shifts its focus to a new chapter next year at the $35 million ballpark currently being built in Fredericksburg. We detailed the franchise’s timeline at Pfitzner Stadium in our story last November.
Potomac, a High-A Carolina League affiliate of the Washington Nationals, beat Myrtle Beach, 5-1, on Thursday in front of a crowd of 4,682 on hand to watch the final game at the ballpark. The P-Nats finished their final season at the ballpark with a 70-67 record, sweeping their final four games at Frederick over the weekend to finish the season on a seven-game winning streak.
Mike Covington, the longtime Potomac coach and a Prince William native, was an assistant at the Dumfries school when it beat Lake Braddock, 6-4, in the Group AAA state final on the field in 1988. He also recalls fondly throwing out the first pitch on ‘Billy Deck Day’ named for the former Panthers star who played with the then-Potomac Cannons from 1998-2000, and the ‘The Fall Classic’ run by former Potomac coach Jerry Gardziel that was held at the stadium and attracted some of the country’s top players.
“It’s been a nice place to play, the facilities were very good for the era when it first opened,” Covington said.
Originally established as the Alexandria Dukes in 1978, the franchise moved to its new home after six seasons at what was then known as Municipal Stadium at Four Mile Run Park. Today, the ballpark is named Frank Mann Field and serves as the home to Bishop Ireton in the spring and the Alexandria Aces of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League in the summer.
Pfitzner Stadium has been the home to dozens of future Major Leaguers, and it was a former big leaguer that provided former Gar-Field coach Mike Meadows with one of his favorite memories at the park. The colorful Joe Charboneau, who suited up for the then-Prince William Pirates in 1984, was ejected from a game and proceeded to entertain the crowd by tossing bats and water coolers on the field.
Meadows, who grew up playing and coaching not far from the stadium, also remembers fans getting on Billy Ripken, the younger brother of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.
“Billy Ripken came through playing shortstop for Hagerstown and he was unmercifully harassed by the fans,” Meadows said, adding that the younger Ripken brother handled the heckling well. “Also, another wonderful experience was having American Legion ball in the stadium.”
Since the opening of the stadium, the club has been affiliated with six Major League organizations and had eight different names. The ballpark itself has had four names, beginning as Davis Ford Park, then becoming Prince William County Stadium, then Pfitzner Stadium, and for the past two years, going by Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium.
Here are some more stadium numbers:
$2,000,000 - The cost of the stadium, which was built in 1983 and early 1984.
236,772 - The number of fans that attended the P-Nats’ home games in 2013, a club record and an average of 3,534 over the 67 contests.
12,916 - Number of days the club called Pfitzner Stadium home, debuting on Apr. 19, 1984 and playing its final game at the ballpark on Aug. 29, 2019.
.488 - The club’s overall winning percentage in its 36 seasons at the stadium, having compiled a 2,438-2,556 record and 14 winning campaigns.
84 - Victories in 2013, a franchise record. The P-Nats also set a franchise record that season with 47 home wins, but would lose in the Carolina League championship series to Salem.
11 - Carolina League playoff appearances, in the 36 seasons the team played at the stadium. The franchise’s other postseason came in 1982.
6 - Major League organizations the franchise has been affiliated with while at the stadium, including the Pirates from 1984-86, the Yankees from 1987-93, the White Sox from 1994-96, the Cardinals from 1997-2002, the Reds from 2003-04, and the Nationals from 2005-19.
4 - Carolina League championships won by the club while playing at the stadium, winning in 1989, 2008, 2010 and 2014. The franchise also won a title in 1982 while playing in Alexandria.
2 - Carolina League MVP honors won while at the stadium, earned by Troy Farnsworth in 2000 and Tyler Moore in 2010. Farnsworth holds the franchise record with 113 RBI and Moore clubbed 31 home runs, also a club record.