After having Chief Wahoo as their primary logo for 102 years, the Cleveland Indians will no longer be using it due to Major League Baseball pressure. Starting with the 2019 MLB season, the Indians will no longer feature cartoon character, Chief Wahoo, on their uniforms.
The Cleveland Indians were initially called the Cleveland Spiders until 1899 which they then changed to the Cleveland Naps, after their star player Nap Lajoie. According to NBC Sports, after Lajoie departed in 1914 owner Charles Somers asked local baseball writers to come up with a new name.
The name Indians and the logo came about because then star player Louis Sockalexis is believed to be the first Native American in the MLB. Originally the logo was used to honor Native Americans and the rich history of them in Northeast Ohio not with the purpose of disrespecting.
“I do not believe that the Indians should be changed because it’s been around for so long and I feel people are reading into why the logo was made and not the true reason,” senior Michaela Light said.
Many have criticized the logo as a sign of racism because the cartoon character features what some call a ‘Stereotypical American’ Indian face. According to USA Today, every year since the 1990’s playoff runs, groups of Native Americans have protested outside the stadium before the home opener in hopes getting Chief Wahoo permanently removed.
In 2014 the Tribe have began using a block “C” as their logo more often by shifting it as the primary cap logo and displaying it around the ballpark. In Aug. 2016, Indians managment released that they had no plans to change the logo and found it not disrespectful to Native Americans.
“ I do feel the logo should be changed because so many people feel offended and have protested for years over the logo. I still was and will be an Indians fan regardless of the logo,” Sophomore Hannah Williams said.
Major League Baseball then publicly stated they would not force the Indians to change their name since it has been in use for 100 years. National criticism did not occur until Oct.2016, when the Indians had a showdown with the Toronto Blue Jays for the American League Championship Series and the World Series.
During the American League championship, the city of Toronto tried to file an appeal for the Indians to remove the team name and logo patches from their jerseys to not be shown on Canadian TV. Two days after the devastating World Series game 7 loss to the Chicago Cubs, Major League Baseball released that they would look into the logo and hold a meeting to discuss if changes needed to be made.
Ultimately, pressure on management from the MLB heightened when Cleveland was named the host city for the 2019 All-Star Game. Many believe if Cleveland had never won the bid for the All-Star game the logo would never have changed. The MLB feared if the logo still represented the team they would lose people from attending the most popular game of the year and cause the loss of millions of dollars.
While many believe this is the end of the road for Chief Wahoo, they are completely wrong. MLB is not all for the change after allowing the ball to continue selling merchandise featuring the mascot in Northeast Ohio. This is in order for the MLB and the Indians to keep ownership of the trademark. In many ways Chief Wahoo will never disappear and will forever be a part of Cleveland history.