Base­ball: Com­mis­sioner pres­sures Cleve­land to ditch its con­tro­ver­sial logo


CLEVE­LAND— The Cleve­land In­di­ans re­turned home to Pro­gres­sive Field on Tues­day for the first time since an ag­o­niz­ing Game 7 de­feat to the Chicago Cubs in the World Se­ries. They raised the 2016 Amer­i­can League pen­nant and handed out rings be­fore the fo­cus turned back to the cur­rent sea­son.

It is a sea­son in which the In­di­ans may again be one of the top teams in base­ball, but it is also one in which they may have to wres­tle in­creas­ingly with the is­sue of Chief Wa­hoo, the smil­ing car­i­ca­ture that has long been an In­di­ans logo but has come to be seen as of­fen­sive and wildly out­dated.

Among those who think it is time for the club to de­ci­sively move away from the logo is Ma­jor League Base- ball com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred, who in con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sions with the team’s own­er­ship is be­gin­ning to ap­ply a lit­tle bit of pres­sure on the club to come up with a plan of ac­tion.

In a state­ment to the New York Times, Pat Court­ney, a spokesper­son for Ma­jor League Base­ball, said Man­fred, in his talks with the In­di­ans’ own­ers, had made clear his “de­sire to tran­si­tion away from the Chief Wa­hoo logo.”

“We have spe­cific steps in an iden­ti­fied process and are mak­ing progress,” Court­ney added. “We are con­fi­dent that a pos­i­tive res­o­lu­tion will be reached that will be good for the game and the club.”

Al­though Man­fred had pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged a will­ing­ness to en­gage in talks with the team about the logo, Court­ney’s state­ment ap­pears to be the first time that Man­fred is iden­ti­fied as hav­ing staked out a clear po­si­tion on the is­sue.

It is an is­sue, how­ever, that may not be that easy to re­solve. Al­though many peo­ple, in­clud­ing base­ball fans around the coun­try, would wel­come the re­moval of Chief Wa­hoo, there is a sig­nif­i­cant seg­ment of the In­di­ans’ fan base that still cher­ishes the logo, which has ex­isted in var­i­ous forms since 1947.

“Chief Wa­hoo is the Cleve­land In­di­ans,” said Karen Hale, a lo­cal In­di­ans fan who was out­side the sta­dium be­fore Tues­day’s game. “I think there comes a time when you have to take a stand for what you be­lieve in. I don’t think it’s hurt­ing any­body.”

Philip Yenyo, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can In­dian Move­ment of Ohio, has been protest­ing at the In­di­ans’ open­ing day games for years and ve­he­mently dis­agrees with Hale and oth­ers with sim­i­lar views. He would pre­fer the team elim­i­nate the In­di­ans name as well, but he would be happy for it to start with the logo.

Dur­ing this year’s protest, Yenyo en­gaged in a cor­dial con­ver­sa­tion with a team em­ployee. And Yenyo said that over the years the In­di­ans had been very co-op­er­a­tive in ar­rang­ing for se­cu­rity to pro­tect the twodozen or so pro­test­ers who do show up out­side the sta­dium.

Still, as Yenyo spoke through a mega­phone at Tues­day’s demon­stra­tion, a man bar­relled through the pro­test­ers and yelled at him: “It’s a car­i­ca­ture. Get over it.”

At Tues­day’s game, the Chief Wa­hoo logo could not be seen any­where on the sta­dium build­ing or on the field, but it was on the left sleeves of the blue jer­seys worn by the In­di­ans play­ers and on their caps.

The logo could also be found on many items in the team sou­venir shop, along with stick­ers de­pict­ing an even harsher rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Chief Wa­hoo from an ear­lier pe­riod. For now, at least, the logo still sur­vives and even thrives.


Cleve­land’s MLB team has used the Chief Wa­hoo logo in var­i­ous forms since 1947.

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