I heard breaking news this morning that left an empty space in my soul. The Cleveland Indians are finally succumbing to political correctness and scalping the Chief Wahoo logo from their caps and sleeves. It’s a sad day for many fans in the Mistake on the Lake (as it’s been called).
As for me, Chief Wahoo is all I’ve ever known. He was adopted in 1947 (three years prior to my birth). Seventy years is a long time, but it looks like our toothy, caricature friend is not long for this world. 2018 will be his final season as the face on the Indians’ uniforms.
The Whitest Guy Around
As you probably know, there have been several Native American groups protesting the logo’s presence for a long time. They see the image as demeaning. I’ve never viewed it that way, but I’m about as white as a guy could be, so I’m not sure my vote should count.
In my defense, however, I’m married to a gal who’s part Native American (from the Seneca Tribe, I believe). I didn’t realize it until we went to get the marriage license, and she tried to pay the clerk in wampum. She can get really torqued off about a lot of things, but Chief Wahoo is not one of them.
I have a couple of Indian caps with the Chief prominently displayed, so I went to my closet and donned one when I heard the news. I may have to purchase a few more items with his likeness, just for nostalgia’s sake.
The Chief isn’t actually being banned altogether—just from the uniforms worn on the playing field. So, for us Wahoo fans, we can still get our mugs, t-shirts, and banners with his depiction. Total eradication would be too much to take. I suppose the next generation won’t care, but we have to be weaned off.
Show Me the Money
This decision, of course, has not satisfied the protestors. They can’t understand why his pic will remain on the uni’s for another year. Why not change them now? I certainly understand that question. Could monetary considerations be the answer?
More importantly, (and I’m sure you could see this one coming) they want the entire name dropped and/or changed. The term, “Indians,” they say will still encourage fans to show up at the ball yard dressed in feathers and war paint. I’m sure they’re right about that. I’ve never been one to don face paint and weird headgear, but it does look like fun.
The whole thing causes me to wonder how long it will be before the Cleveland nine will no longer be called the Indians. The change seems inevitable. But what will they be named? The Rock-n-Rollers? It just doesn’t flow as well. Besides that, they’re surrounded by the Cuyahoga River, Lake Erie, and the state of Ohio (all named after Native American tribes).
I suppose they could revert back to one of their original names—the Spiders. Still, I shudder to think what THAT logo would look like.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]