The Cleveland Indians will no longer sport images of their racist mascot Chief Wahoo on team uniforms starting in 2019. Major League Baseball announced the change this morning, saying in a statement that the caricature was “no longer appropriate for use on the field.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been trying to pressure Indians owner Paul Dolan to change the logo for a few years now, and he may have finally found the right leverage point. The Cleveland Scene reports that team ownership agreed to phase it out as a condition of getting to host the 2019 All-Star Game. Dolan released a statement, acknowledging that while the team’s fans may be attached to the racist caricature, it’s still a racist caricature.
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 longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.
Still, the team will retain the trademark on Chief Wahoo, and will continue to sell merchandise with the logo in 2019 and beyond. MLB’s website won’t sell Wahoo gear, though by retaining the rights and keeping another party from manufacturing items bearing the logo, the Indians can continue to profit. We reached out to MLB for further details about the team’s plans, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.