The decision was a mutual one between Commissioner Rob Manfred Jr. and Indians owner Paul Dolan, MLB said in a statement. Manfred said Major League Baseball was “committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion,” which led to dialogue between the commissioner’s office and the Indians.
“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. “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 acknowledgement that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”
Dolan said he was “cognizant and sensitive” to opinions on both sides of the discussion, adding that he was “ultimately in agreement” to remove the logo beginning in 2019.
The Indians, a charter member of the American League, were originally called the Blues when the team debuted in 1901. It changed the name to Bronchos in 1902, and then became the Naps from 1903 to 1914, in honor of star player Napoleon Lajoie.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Chief Wahoo logo debuted in 1932, when the newspaper ran a comic strip called “The Little Indian,” featuring a Native American, to recap the previous day’s results.
In 1947, 17-year-old Walter Goldbach designed the first rendition of Chief Wahoo, which was commissioned by then-Indians owner Bill Veeck, the Plain Dealer reported. The image was tweaked in 1951 and has been used since.
The team had been phasing out the logo in recent years, substituting a large block “C” insignia on some uniforms. Topps, the company that markets baseball cards, replaced the Chief Wahoo logo with the “C” in 2017 and made a point to feature photographs of players not wearing the logo.