Chief Wahoo has struck out.
The Cleveland Indians have agreed to remove the big-toothed, red-faced caricature from their jerseys and caps starting in the 2019 season.
The Indians have used the Chief Wahoo logo since 1947, but Major League Baseball has pressured the team to end its use. The Indians will be allowed to use the logo this year, then remove it from team uniforms in 2019, when Cleveland plays host to the All-Star Game.
Commissioner Rob Manfred, reluctant to mandate a ban on the Chief Wahoo logo, has urged Indians owner Paul Dolan for several years to remove the locally beloved but racially charged logo.
“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,” Manfred said in a statement.
“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 acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”
Dolan told the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “You can’t help but be aware of how many of our fans are connected to Chief Wahoo. We grew up with it. I remember seeing the little cartoon of The Chief in the paper each day, showing if the Indians won or lost.”
In recent years, the Indians have emphasized the use of a red block C on their caps.
“While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo,” Dolan said in a statement, “I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”
The Indians are not changing their team nickname, despite protests from some Native American groups.
The Cleveland baseball club variously was known as the Forest Citys, Spiders, Blues, Bronchos and Naps from 1869 through 1914. When the club sold Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1915, it changed its name to Indians in honor of Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian from Maine and the first recognized Native American to play in the major leagues — in 1897, when he batted .338 for Cleveland.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin