Cleveland Indians Slowly Phasing out Chief Wahoo


A block “C” is not the sexiest logo, but it’s a change in the right direction.

The Cleveland Indians have slowly phased out its Chief Wahoo logo in favor of that big C, but the team hasn’t eliminated the Chief completely. The smiling Indian caricature, deemed racist by many, will remain on the caps and jersey sleeves of its home uniform.

Although there’s been no official statement from the organization, the trend toward de-emphasizing Wahoo is continuing. The logo on the caps has changed, the team reduced the logo’s visibility at spring training, and they don’t promote the Chief like they did during past publicity events.

The New Republic reports that Curtis Danberg, the Indians’ senior director of communications, said that there is not any sudden move to ditch the chief and that their decision to phase out the logo is unrelated to anything in the news, in other words the “Redskins” debate. “There is no conspiracy theory,” Danberg said. 

A few months ago, the team surveyed their fans’ feelings about the logo. It was an effort, at least it appeared to be, to make a break toward sensitivity. At the time the team facilitated the survey, they said they had discussions with people of all races and understood that not everyone was keen on “Chief Wahoo.”

RELATED Cleveland Indians Do Self-Serving Survey About “Chief Wahoo” has been chronicling the changes since 2009. That year, they replaced Wahoo with a red C on batting helmets; in 2013, the team started wearing those batting helmets during home games. After winning a wildcard spot in the playoffs last year, there was no trace of the smiling logo on apparel, and perhaps most telling, in an official MLB graphic with all 30 teams displayed, the Indians were the only team not to use their primary logo, according to the New Republic.

Chris Perez wearing Cleveland's C block cap (Associated Press)

Travis Waldron, of Think Progress pointed out that the Indians “may give up the logo on the web site and on road uniforms and spring training outfits, but they’re still going to use it at home, where they can hide behind the preferences of their fans.” He said that the Indians are more receptive of change than the “Redskins,” for example, but they’re in a pseudo tug-of war, balancing how to please their fans, with avoiding galloping into a PR nightmare.

Regardless, the Cleveland Indians have made a change. Now let’s see if the Washington football team follows suit.