Cleveland Indian Logos Since 1928
Since 1928 - A Pictorial History of the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo Logos

Since 1928 - A Pictorial History of the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo Logos

Vincent Schilling

As the Cleveland Indians battle it out in the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, their controversial Chief Wahoo logo is once being shoved into the faces of sports fans around the country.

Where did the infamous Chief Wahoo logo - red face, big eyes and toothy grin - come from? Prior to 1928, the team had only used the letter “C” for a logo or spelled out Cleveland.

Here is a pictorial history of the ‘face’ of the Cleveland Indians.

First Indian logo - 1928

The first logo used by Cleveland was a crudely drawn Indian head with three feathers. The logo only lasted one season.

Red Face Logo

Red and White Headdress Image - 1929 - 1932

The following season’s image was of a chief in a headdress with a red face and black outlines. The logo lasted a few seasons.

Red and White Headdress Image - 1929 - 1932

Green Shirt Yellow Face Chief - 1933 - 1938

In 1933, the team incorporated a slightly more colorful version of the logo, using an Indian ‘chief’ image wearing a yellow and red headdress and a green shirt.

Indians ‘chief’ image wearing a yellow and red headdress and a green shirt.

Circa 1929, early incarnation of Wahoo. Earl Averill #3 of the Cleveland Indians. photo credit: Getty Images

Red Face Headdress Chief and a Circle Background - 1939 - 1945

In 1939, Cleveland moved on to a Native American with a red face with a white and black headdress on a red and white striped circled background.

Red Face Headdress Chief and a Circle Background

A cartoonish image similar to today’s Chief Wahoo started ‘officially’ in 1947

In 1947, Indians owner Bill Veeck hired a 17-year-old ad agency artist named Walter Goldbach to design an Indian face for the team’s logo. Though Fred G. Reinert had been drawing a well-known character “The Little Indian” 15 years prior to the creation of Goldbach’s logo, Reinert had never been credited with any influence on the logo - though it was similar in design.

The logo was not yet referred to as Chief Wahoo. That name didn’t appear until after 1950.

From 1947-1951, Chief Wahoo had yellow skin.

On May 3, 1932, this small image appeared on the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. photo credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer via Belt Magazine June 19th, 2014, “The Secret History of Chief Wahoo.” (

Cleveland Indian pitcher Bob Feller reads a copy of his book, "Strikeout Story," as he sits in the Cleveland dressing room, May 5, 1947 photo credit: AP Images

1951 Chief Wahoo with yellow skin. photo credit: AP Images

The Cleveland Indians also added a body a year later and changed the mascot indian color to red. The logo remained in use until 1950.

Chief Wahoo with a body.

The Chief Wahoo We Know Today - 1951 - 1972

In 1951, the mascot got a smaller nose, triangle eyes and the toothy-grin. With only minor adjustments since, the design has stayed the same until today.

From 1962 through 1994, a 28-foot-tall, neon sign of Chief Wahoo stood above Gate D of Cleveland Municipal Stadium. When the stadium was demolished, the neon sign was donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society. photo credit: Western Reserve Historical Society.

CIRCA 1953. Mike Garcia, pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, poses for a portrait (with a red-skinned logo). photo credit: Getty images.

Red White and Blue - 1973 - 1979

In 1973, a red, white and blue full-body version of the logo made its way onto uniforms which lasted until 1979.Red, white and blue Chief Wahoo logo

1973. Chief Wahoo logo on uniform of pitcher Gaylord Perry. photo credit: Getty Images

Chief Wahoo Returns - 1980 - 2014

Other than a small blue outline instead of a black outline, (or a white outline on blue baseball caps in 1986) the Chief Wahoo has remained unchanged from its 1951 inception.

1986. Chief Wahoo introduced on hats. photo credit: AP Images

2008 Stars and Stripes Chief Wahoo hat. The Indians cap with Chief Wahoo emblazoned in stars and stripes was criticized by some sportswriters. In 2009 MLB redesigned the Indians "Stars and Stripes" cap with a "C" logo replacing Chief Wahoo” photo credit: AP Images

Chief Wahoo or a Big “C” - 2014 to Today

The team switched to a block letter “C” in lieu of the Chief Wahoo logo on hats in 2014, but the sentiment didn’t really stick as Chief Wahoo still rests on caps, uniforms and many items for sale in the MLB Indians merchandise online gift store.  

The largest proof of the sentiment is the presence of Chief Wahoo on caps at the MLB’s 2016 American League Championship Series and World Series games.

Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana celebrates after making final out  against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, Oct 19th, 2016. photo credit: AP Images

The Cleveland Indians defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 of the World Series, building on a dominant performance by starting pitcher Corey Kluber. Matt Slocum/AP

Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling


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