Just a few short decades (or centuries) after it became clear that the imagery was tasteless, the Cleveland Indians have announced that they’re going to remove the “Chief Wahoo” logo from their uniforms and on-field signs by the 2019 baseball season. For those who don’t follow baseball, Chief Wahoo is a cartoon image of a Native American man that is so racist that it seems like it’d be more appropriate in one of those banned Warner Bros. cartoons that some animator made as a joke than it would be on a professional baseball field, and yet the Cleveland team has been proudly slapping it on uniforms and merchandise since 1948.
Backlash against Chief Wahoo—and the fact that the team is called The Indians in the first place—has been growing in the last few years, and The New York Times says that baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been pushing for the Cleveland team’s chief executive to finally abandon the logo. The team had already eased back on the logo’s prominence, a half-hearted attempt to keep both sides of this debate happy, but in 2019 it’ll be totally wiped from Progressive Field. Fans will still be able to buy racist Chief Wahoo merch at the stadium, but that stuff will only be available in “the northern Ohio market” and not in any other Major League Baseball outlets—including its website.
The New York Times story says that the discussions about abandoning Chief Wahoo “did not include deliberations over changing the actual name of the franchise,” but some people believe that this is the first step in making that similarly necessary change happen. If it does, hopefully Cleveland will come up with an inoffensive way to name their sports team, like by picking a random color and then adding “Sox” or by taking inspiration from an iconic figure in the city’s history. The Cleveland Drew Careys has a nice ring to it.