CLEVELAND -- Chief Wahoo's time in Cleveland is coming to an end. The polarizing logo will disappear from the Cleveland Indians' hats and jerseys at the start of the 2019 season, the team and Major League Baseball confirmed on Monday.
In a statement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred deemed that the symbol was "no longer appropriate for use on the field." The cartoonish caricature of a Native American, which some consider to be racist and offensive, first appeared in the Indians' uniform scheme in 1948 and has appeared in various forms since.
Wahoo isn't going away for good, however, as the Indians won't relinquish the trademark and will be able to profit off the logo with merchandise at Progressive Field and in the Northeast Ohio area, according to The New York Times. Had the Indians or MLB surrendered the trademark on the logo, another party could have legally taken control of it.
Chief Wahoo products will not be available on the MLB's official website.
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.”
Perhaps uncoincidentally, Cleveland is slated to host the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. Last year, Manfred had begun to publicly pressure Indians owner Paul Dolan to abandon the logo.
“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion," Dolan said in a statement. "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.”
In recent years, the Indians had appeared to be phasing Chief Wahoo out of its uniform scheme. In 2014, the Indians made the 'Block C' their official primary logo, although Wahoo was still used on caps and uniforms as a secondary logo.
Throughout Cleveland's run to the 2016 World Series, the Indians wore Chief Wahoo hats in every one of their playoff games.
According to The Times, discussions for ending the logo did not include deliberation regarding a potential change of the Indians' name.
On Monday evening, Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson issued the following statement: “The decision by the Cleveland Indians to retire Chief Wahoo from team uniforms is wonderful news for the city. I applaud the team’s decision to show the city, nation and world that Cleveland is an inclusive place that values all diversity - in this case showing greater honor to our nation’s first people by retiring the Wahoo mascot from uniforms.”