The Cleveland Indians have made good on their commitment to remove the Chief Wahoo logo from next season’s uniforms. However, the baseball club will still use the contentious caricature to earn revenue elsewhere.
New uniforms unveiled Monday mark the first time in 70 years that the big-toothed, smiling, red-faced mascot wasn’t included.
READ MORE: Chief Wahoo is going, going, gone
The club had been phasing out the highly debated caricature for years before striking an agreement with Major League Baseball to discontinue using it on uniforms. The Indians will continue to sell “Wahoo” merchandise at their team shop to allow the club to maintain ownership of the trademark.
Scores of Native Americans and their supporters have protested each year outside Cleveland’s stadium before the home opener. They show up in hopes of abolishing Chief Wahoo and the team’s “Indians” nickname, which they feel is an offensive depiction of their race.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in January that Cleveland’s owner, Paul Dolan, was aware of “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,” Manfred said at the time. “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.”
National criticism and scrutiny about the Indians’ allegiance to Chief Wahoo grew in 2016, when the Indians made the World Series and Manfred expressed his desire to have the team eradicate the symbol. Earlier in that post-season, a lawsuit was filed while the club was playing in Toronto to have the logo and team name banned from appearing on Canadian TV. That court case was dismissed by a judge.
The NFL’s Washington Redskins continue to resist similar pressure to change their name and logo.
The team also unveiled a new alternate home jersey on Monday. It’s a red top scripted with “Indians” on the front that Cleveland occasionally will wear for home games in 2019. The Indians last wore red jerseys from 1975-77, when they also wore red pants that won’t be making a comeback.
Cleveland’s caps as well as its home and road jerseys will feature the guitar-shaped 2019 All-Star Game logo. Cleveland, which is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is hosting the 75th event in July.
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— With files from The Associated Press