After years of criticism, the Cleveland Indians are making a change to their uniforms. In 2019, the fighting braves of the Cuyahoga will take the field donning uniforms and hats without the “Chief Wahoo” logo.
Why the Change?
The Indians’ appearance in the 2016 World Series resulted in an influx of national criticism of the organization’s use of the logo. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred even met with Indians owner Paul Dolan in late January 2017 to discuss the matter.
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” Manfred said in a statement released on Monday.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 29, 2018
“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion,” Dolan said. “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
The Tribe will maintain Wahoo’s presence on its uniforms for the 2018 season. In addition, the club will maintain the Chief Wahoo trademark and retail rights. Cleveland will continue to sell items with the logo at Progressive Field also.
MLB will continue to allow the sale of Chief Wahoo items in Northeast Ohio after Indians stop using logo on field in 2019.
Sure, they can continue to make $, but if they don't use it in commerce, anyone can essentially make it their own & profit off of it. pic.twitter.com/3qX5aH8NpS
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 29, 2018
History of Chief Wahoo
The caricature has appeared in multiple variations since Wahoo’s first use in 1946. The logo’s first design was by 17-year-old Cleveland native Walter Goldbach, who passed away in late 2017. The Tribe went on to win the 1948 World Series wearing Goldbach’s design.
The decision over the logo was met with varying reactions ranging from a defense of Chief Wahoo to calls for it to be removed sooner rather than later.
ESPN the Magazine Senior Writer Mina Kimes on Around The Horn on Monday:
“Saying that we’ve done it this way for a long time is not a good reason to keep doing something when there is inherent wrong involved in it,” Mike Golic Jr. said on ESPN Radio’s Golic and Wingo Tuesday morning. “We’ve finally, in 2018, looked up and realized the wrong in this…”
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson was in favor of the decision. He said in a statement that it was “wonderful news for the city.”
Indians writer Paul Hoynes opposes the decision, but his argument against deals with the MLB Commissioner’s actions rather than politics.
Paul Hoynes: I don't think it's the commissioner's job to tell a team what logo they can and cannot put on their uniforms unless it's a symbol of unadulterated evil. Do you agree? https://t.co/PVnPt7Xg2j
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) January 30, 2018
Some have even gone as far to create social media accounts centered around maintaining Wahoo:
The day has come… we MUST fight back! Tweeting at @Indians is not enough!
Write: 2401 Ontario Street Cleveland, OH, 44115
— Save Chief Wahoo (@SaveWahoo) January 29, 2018
The “It Doesn’t Matter” Crowd
Cleveland.com columnist Brent Larkin said in his latest piece that what matters more than Chief Wahoo is the Tribe’s play on the field.