The Cleveland Indians will bid farewell to their controversial cartoon mascot, Chief Wahoo, at the end of the 2018 season, the team announced today.
The New York Times reports that Cleveland made the decision only recently, but nonetheless, they feel that the mascot, who is a cartoon Native American with a garish smile, is “no longer appropriate for use on the field.”
According to reports, Chief Wahoo, who has been on the team’s battle flag (pictured above) and on their uniforms since 1948, has been the subject of plenty of complaints, and groups around the country have been pressuring Cleveland to ditch the mascot for some time.
But this past year, after Cleveland appeared in the 2016 World Series* and the 2017 MLB playoffs, MLB management began to pressure Cleveland to take action. Commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, issued a statement congratulating the team on making the change, telling The New York Times that he was pleased the team “ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball.”
The Indians say the change has been in the works for some time, though they did not meet the deadline to have the mascot removed from the 2018 regulation uniforms, which must go into mass production before Spring Training begins in February. This season, fans will notice a scaled back Chief Wahoo presence, and he’ll be totally scrubbed by the beginning of the 2019 season.
Activists tell the NYT, though, that they aren’t totally happy. They’d prefer the Cleveland Indians change their team name altogether, they say, and they’d like the Atlanta Braves to quickly follow suit.
*The Cleveland Indians lost the 2016 World Series in game 7 to the Chicago Cubs.