The MLB Cleveland Indians are distancing themselves from the logo the team has used since 1947 — the iconic, albeit controversial, “Chief Wahoo” symbol.
ESPN reports that the team will remove Chief Wahoo from its uniforms starting next year.
“However, the American League team will continue to wear the Wahoo logo on its uniform sleeves and caps in 2018, and the club will still sell merchandise featuring the mascot in Northeast Ohio,” ESPN notes. “The team must maintain a retail presence so that MLB and the Indians can keep ownership of the trademark.”
Chief Wahoo has been a lightning rod for criticism for decades, with some observers saying the smiling, big-toothed, red-faced caricature is racist. The decision to pull the mascot’s presence from the field comes after lengthy discussions between team owner Paul Dolan and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
In a statement, Manfred said: “Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game. 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.”
Dolan commented: “We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion. 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.”