Cleveland Indians baseball has used the Chief Wahoo logo prominently since 1947. As of the beginning of the 2019 season, the logo will no longer be seen on the field.
Announced by the club today, the team will begin to phase out the polarizing logo and remove it completely from their uniforms, caps, and around home ballpark Progressive Field by the start of 2019. This is a decision that has been hotly debated in the area for years, but gained steam in recent years. They will however continue to sell select merchandise in the Northeast Ohio area so MLB and the club can maintain the trademark on the logo.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement said that he applauds the organizations decision:
“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team.
“Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”
Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan says he understands “both” sides of the argument:
“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 long-standing attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
In a statement, Philip Yenyo from the American Indian Movement of Ohio called for them not to stop with just the logo.
“I’m elated,” Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, said of the decision to stop using Wahoo on the uniforms. “But at the same time, I think it should be this year. I don’t understand why they’re drawing this out. It doesn’t make any sense to me, unless they want to continue to make what’s basically blood money.”
He added: “Just make the leap already.”
Yenyo and others have demanded that the team go further and drop “Indians” from its name:
“If they don’t get rid of the name, then you’re still going to have fans going down there wearing headdresses and painted redface.”
I have lived in Northeast Ohio my entire life and am an Indians fan. Honestly this decision does not bother me in the slightest. They have been phasing out using Chief Wahoo for years, replacing it with everything from a script “I” to the currently popular “Block C” found around the park and worn on the field. Even if they changed the name, the first professional baseball team in Cleveland was the Spiders in the late 1800’s. Just change it to that. I learned a long time ago in sports to root for the city, not the logo or the players. Fans have not been too thrilled since the announcement either, especially on local sports talk radio.
I am happy the team is taking this step. They may have only done it because Cleveland is hosting the annual All-Star game in 2019 and reached a deal with the MLB, but no matter. Cleveland is no longer going to be lumped in with organizations like the Washington Professional Football Team for being culturally insensitive. As a fan, that is alright with me.