Cleveland Indians President Mark Shapiro: “Chief Wahoo isn’t going anywhere.”

by Cleveland Frowns on April 11, 2013

As much as some folks would like to believe that the Cleveland Indians are in the process of phasing out Jim Crow/Third Reich relic Chief Wahoo as an official symbol of the franchise, the highest ranking representatives of the organization keep saying that Wahoo is here to stay. Most recently, Indians President Mark Shapiro was asked about the issue on Monday by Tony Rizzo in an appearance on Rizzo’s “Really Big Show” on ESPN’s Cleveland radio outlet, 850 WKNR, and echoed nearly word-for-word what the club’s owner Larry Dolan said the last time he commented publicly on the subject.

The whole interview is available here at ESPNCleveland.com, and here’s a transcript of the exchange on Chief Wahoo, which begins at the 7:25 mark.

Rizzo: “Alright, I’ve gotta ask this because there’s been rumors flying around and I want to get to this … I love the [block C] hats.. and I notice a lot of C hats, a lot of younger people are wearing the C. Some of the older people still have the Chief Wahoo. Mark, are you guys phasing out Chief Wahoo?”

Shapiro: “No, Chief Wahoo’s not going anywhere. [Crowd applauds, Shapiro laughs nervously] We, we, are certainly doing our best to, uhhh, huhhh, to promote the C because the C is something that we’re proud of. The C, we’re proud of because it stands for Cleveland and that’s you know, we want our team, we want our our fans when they see our team play to know that who we’re representing are the Cleveland Indians. And uh you know we feel like the C, ah you know, maybe more than some of the other logos we’ve tried over the past years is one that’s gonna stick and one that is traditional and one that if you look back in the early 1900s for about 15, 20 years that block C was a part of the Indians’ history. So, I’m a big traditionalist, our uniforms reflect some tradition throughout them. Even the script “Indians” has went back away from the shadow to the single outline more like the 40′s, so you know we’ve got the script Indians, we’ve got the C, and we’ve got Wahoo. All three are important to us, all three are gonna be featured prominently. But I think what you’ve seen is, the fact that we’ve pumped up a new logo so much, and that it’s become such a core part that yes it does pull away and detract a little bit from the Chief, but the Chief is still on every uniform that we’ve got.

Shapiro

So “C” is an important reminder that the Indians are from Cleveland, Shapiro is a big traditionalist, Chief Wahoo is important, too, and will continue to be “featured prominently,” including, presently, on every uniform that the club has. “Chief Wahoo’s not going anywhere.”

With that, Rizzo presses on, extremely lightly:

Rizzo: “I was listening [to another WKNR show] and they were you know talking about the whole Chief Wahoo thing and I heard some Native Americans calling in. Some said that they were going to be here today [to protest the franchise's continued use of the symbol]. Mark, what is the official position of the club on the, on the whole, you know, Chief Wahoo thing, and and for the the small minority of people that seem to find it offensive.

Shapiro: “Yeah I mean I think you always want to be sensitive to anybody that finds it offensive, that, you know ultimately the Indians name and the team, ah, is in recognition of our pride and affiliation with the first Native American baseball player. So I think what we choose to do is celebrate, you know, Louis Sockalexis and and his history and tradition with the Indians and, and not to focus on uh anything that we would view, that, you know, anything that we don’t view and certainly don’t want to put, uh, be offensive to anyone.”

All credit to Shapiro, of course, for completely losing his ability to speak English once he started to try to say that Chief Wahoo “celebrates” Louis Sockalexis’s history with the franchise. But sadly, that was where the conversation about Wahoo came to an abrupt end, with Rizzo’s co-host Greg Brinda moving right on to discuss improvements to Progressive Field.

As much as one might like to thank Rizzo for even bringing up “the, you know, um, ahhh, the whole Chief Wahoo thing,” any such credit is more than wiped out by his cowardly failure to ask the obvious follow-up questions about Wahoo’s roots in Jim Crow, and a time period where the majority race in the U.S. was much more concerned with enacting “miscegenation” laws than with honoring or “celebrating” any other race. Rizzo might also have pointed out that every historian who’s ever analyzed the issue has concluded that the only thing the “Indians” name could have conceivably been meant to ”celebrate” was the notion of Natives as anachronistic savages, and that the only influence Sockalexis had on the name was by way of sportswriters’ nostalgia for the sensational brutality to which he was subject on the ballfield before he shortly drank himself to death.

Really, how hard would it have been?

“Hey, Mark, but wait, really, look at this thing. Look at Chief Wahoo. Really, how could this possibly honor a Native American or anyone? You know what happened to Sockalexis when he played for Cleveland, don’t you? And look, don’t you think Wahoo looks a lot more like these caricatures of Jews that were used to reinforce a program for their extinction in Nazi Germany, or these caricatures of black people that were used to reinforce segregation under Jim Crow? Wahoo was made at exactly the same time as these other caricatures, Mark. And look at this cartoon that was in the Plain Dealer on the day they announced that the team would be named “Indians.” Doesn’t this bother you? Shouldn’t it bother everyone? Why in god’s name does Cleveland still have this thing as an official symbol of anything?”

But of course, WKNR’s practice of hosting press conferences for the local ballclubs has been good enough business for Rizzo, which is why he’s the one who gets to talk to Shapiro in the first place.

Anyway, to Shapiro’s comment that “you always want to be sensitive to anybody that finds [Wahoo] offensive”: In addition to continuing to feature it on every uniform that the club has, and continuing to reassure the public that “Wahoo’s not going anywhere,” another way that the franchise shows its sensitivity is by working with the City of Cleveland to set up barriers to keep the annual protesters from the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance as far away from paying customers as possible (click images to enlarge). Which didn’t stop the paying customers from issuing the customary passive-aggressive faux war-whoops from across the way in response.

2013-04-08 15.03.54

And here’s a couple shots of the WKNR-promoted Opening Day party scene in the parking lot on East 4th Street where Rizzo’s Shapiro interview was conducted, to give you a look at who was cheering when Shapiro announced that Wahoo isn’t going anywhere, as well as the kind of “Steubenville High is 21-and-over now and has a big party at the ballpark one day a year” culture that the Indians organization is apparently so afraid of upsetting in its continued embrace of the logo.

2013-04-08 16.10.31

2013-04-08 16.10.48

After Monday’s sellout for the opener (41,567), the attendance on Tuesday was 12,663.

All hail Tribe Town, all hail the eternally not going anywhere Chief Wahoo, and all hail organizations that take good care “not to focus on uh anything that they would view, that, you know, anything that they don’t view and certainly don’t want to put, uh, be offensive to anyone.”

—————

UPDATE: Chief Wahoo and White Supremacy in American Pop Culture

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    Beautiful.

    The hypocrisy of “Oh, yeah, we don’t want to offend anyone, we’re sensitive to that… but we’re not going to do anything about it” is as stupid as it is predictable.

  • BIKI024

    question for your Frownie, have you seen the Wahoo caricature specifically used in a racist context? it seems to me that there have been thousands of other animations/caricatures during the Jim Crow/Third Reich era that used very similar graphic design stylings, including Mickey Mouse, etc.

    • AS

      I think the point is that it is racist in and of itself; it doesn’t have to be used in a racist context. It’s like yelling “sieg heil” in a synagogue – hailing victory isn’t necessarily bad, but the phrase itself is offensive in and of itself, and nobody in their right mind would do something like that.

      Mickey Mouse isn’t an intentionally offensive caricature; Wahoo is. The other Jim Crow/Third Reich images have been relegated to history; Wahoo should be, too.

      • BIKI024

        so when they commissioned the designer to sketch Chief Wahoo the directive was to make it intentionally offensive?

        • Steve

          The directive was clear that Indians are sub-human.

  • CleveLandThatILove

    Shapiro almost looks like the original Wahoo logo in that shot. Creepy.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1kbBmlAvdI PML

      That is a dead-on assessment. Either that, or he’s coming for my soul.

  • The Cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugs

    This is the only way Chief Wahoo should be preserved:

    http://www.clevelandmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=E73ABD6180B44874871A91F6BA5C249C&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=1578600D80804596A222593669321019&tier=4&id=4EAC2FADF8FA4082AB65F0D2E6F7EDFE

    Just in the same way we read all the words in Huckleberry Finn or listen to all the words of Elie Wiesel – to remind us all of an era where the wrong triumphed because the right allowed it to.

    One day, Chief Wahoo will be gone. One day, the Indians name will be changed. One day, Cleveland will win the World Series. Sadly, I think that’s the order it’s going to happen in as well, and if Shapiro and Dolan’s comments are in fact true, it’s going to be a long time coming.

  • buckeye surgeon

    Excellent work Pete. Cowardly performance by Rizzo.

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisInCLE Chris Mc

    There are more “Peace Keepers” than there are protestors. I’m also certainly not discounting the fact that Chief Wahoo should be retired, but why are there only 4 people protesting?

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Uh, centuries of oppression, marginalization, near-extinction, fatigue. Etc.

      • http://twitter.com/ChrisInCLE Chris Mc

        I’m sure that’s a perfectly valid reason for more than a few Native Americans, but not 5.2 million (according to the 2010 census). If they organized a little better, they might have a shot at the Dolans (and Snyder) taking them seriously. 4 people won’t do it though.

        • bupalos

          4 people set up like this won’t do it. 4 people with the right graphics would. Actually 2 would be fine.

          Frowns if you’re connected to any of these folks, I’d be happy to do them up a big banner if they will go hold it.

          Proper elements here would be to include other cities racist teams to confuddle the local tribalism, and to prominently include the visual parallels (sambo, jewish, irish cartoons).

          Needs to get a home grown “we don’t want to be like them” vibe.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Yes, let’s do this.

        • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

          There were about 20 people there in total, but I’m not sure why anyone would respond to this with a call for one of history’s most oppressed populations to “buck up.” If it’s wrong it’s wrong.

          Anyway, this Chuck Booms-approved line of reasoning has already been addressed.

          http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/the-curse-of-chief-wahoo/Content?oid=2954423&showFullText=true

          “Ohio is home to zero Native reservations, compared to 11 in neighboring Michigan. Nationwide, full-blooded Native Americans make up slightly less than 1 percent of the U.S. population.

          * * *

          “Andy Baskin, a morning personality at 92.3 and sports director at Cleveland’s NewsNet5, recently spoke on his radio show about visiting a reservation in the Southwest and seeing children wearing Chief Wahoo hats.

          “There were African Americans who were OK with sitting on the back of the bus too,” Farrar responds.

          “No minority is a monolithic group,” adds Higginbotham. “It’s hard enough to assimilate without taking on these battles.” (Baskin, incidentally, has concluded that the Wahoo tradition is not one worth holding on to.)

          “Ferris State’s David Pilgrim points out that the U.S. Constitution provides for a Bill of Rights and an independent judiciary precisely because of the problems with leaving certain issues to majorities, expressing his frustration with this fundamental element of protest dynamics. “There’s only so much energy for these things when you’re a member of the oppressed race,” he says. “The dominant culture has all the advantages. The force we’re fighting doesn’t have to do anything but the same thing that it’s always been doing.”

          • nj0

            Clearly Shapiro and Co. aren’t going to be swayed by the fact that if it’s wrong it’s wrong.

            Nothing against 500 Years and their protest, but the cause needs better organization. Somebody should read some Saul Alinsky.

            A lot of people here seem to agree that the Chief is wrong while either not doing anything and/or still supporting the offending institution. Social media being what it is today, you don’t have to show up to protest to get things done. How hard would it be to create a group of dedicated, vocal individuals to constantly push the issue and ask questions to the front office, to the players, to the sponsors, and to the fans?

            And yes, I am one of those hypocrites who thinks it’s abhorrent, complains about it, and still follows the team (though I don’t actively spend money on them).

          • http://twitter.com/ChrisInCLE Chris Mc

            Chuck Booms line of thinking? I said that I think that Wahoo needs to go, and that perhaps Native Americans need help organizing. This is completely antithetical to Chuck Booms’ belief system.

            I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see 20 people. I saw the 4 people included in the picture above.

            If you need to sensationalize, fine. But don’t include me in the same group as that asshole.

      • p_forever

        mostly fatigue. i mean – they are fighting unwinnable battles on all sides, all the time. they are the most marginalized of marginalized populations.

        oh and speaking of near-extinction and unwinnable battles,
        see, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/opinion/save-wounded-knee.html?hp&_r=0

        • actovegin1armstrong

          Thank you for the chilling reminder p.

          I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” when I was ten and still remember the sad stories of genocide in the name of “Manifest Destiny”.

  • Steve

    I’m just not sure exactly what Shapiro should say here. I know what Frownie’s answer will be, but that’s just not going to happen. It is pretty clear that a team that is barely keeping the attention of the locals despite doing exactly what they asked this winter isn’t going to alienate its local support anymore, and, sadly, dropping Wahoo is going to upset more fans than bring new ones in.

    One thing that could have been fixed is that I wish the Sockalexis story would disappear for good. But, if the Indians are going with the “celebrate . . . history and tradition” it would help, at least a little, if they ever actually, you know, did anything that celebrates Native American history and tradition.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      Hey, any press is good press. Maybe if they dropped the logo, it would drum up interest in the team. Maintaining the status quo sure isn’t improving attendance.

      • Steve

        If only. Maybe there are people holding out because of the logo, but there are many more who will be upset if its gone. The indians cant really market nationally, so theyre stuck trying to please locals who are more concerned with keeping the “tradition” of the team. Read any other cleveland sports board, you’ll see.

        • NeedsFoodBadly

          I’m not arguing that there’s a big silent fanbase out there just waiting to come back when Wahoo is gone. All I’m saying is that right now attendance is broke. Getting rid of Wahoo won’t make it more broke. What, all the people who don’t show up to games all of a sudden still won’t show up to games?

          But if they stirred up some controversy, the outcome could be unpredictable… could be positive. Just saying.

          • Steve

            But some people still show up or watch on TV. There still is downside. Even if you only have a few customers, it doesn’t make it any better a business decision to upset them, even if it is for the right reason.

            I get the idea, but just shaking things up isn’t going to draw fans back. The Indians shook things up in a way that could only be considered a positive by signing Swisher and Bourn, and fans are still apathetic.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          “Read any other cleveland sports board, you’ll see.”
          Why would anyone do that?
          I saw the Cleveland sports “boards” and even Cleveland sports reporting as mostly annoying until I found FrownieLand.
          Just as sense is anything but common, popular opinion is woefully pedestrian accommodation, or merely the gentle buzz of our apathetic masses.

          • nj0

            Popular opinion has something to do with a lack of crosswalks?

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Exactly nj0!
            It is terrific that someone here finally gets me, even when I am drunk.

          • Steve

            You would do that if you’re trying to get a more accurate assessment of opinions across town. Unfortunately, few Clevelanders see this matter they way most of this board does.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            Sports forums aren’t an accurate assessment of anything. By definition, they attract the fanatics.

            Anyways, I get what you’re saying but I disagree. Getting rid of Wahoo is the right thing to do, and doing it when interest is at a low point makes the most sense.

    • p_forever

      if he wasn’t going to do the right thing , at least shapiro could have been honest about why the organization won’t let wahoo go away instead of propagating some bullsh*t (and offensive) revisionist history.

  • alexb

    can he stumble and stammer any harder btw? Anyway, the Indians are a tired and old organization. Even if I didn’t think Wahoo was clowning native Americans, which I do, I would still think what a worn out organization the Indians must be not to realize what an opportunity they have for a brand overhaul. They could conceivably sell merchandise outside of Cuyahoga and Summit counties. Just a wasted opportunity to refresh their brand. They’ll eventually do it though, and you know why? Cause someone else will do it first. The Braves or the Redskins will try it to great success, then the Indians will do it and derp….they won’t get a fraction of the buzz about the team as if they had been the first.

    • Steve

      Umm, who outside NE Ohio is going to buy Indians gear, and why exactly? And by making the block C the primary logo instead of Wahoo, is that not a brand refreshing? Sure, it’s not the complete overhaul that needs to happen, but its a refreshing.

      • alexb

        why does anybody buy sports merchandise from outside their local team? It happens. Yes its an OH team so it’s always going to be tougher sell than big market teams. But lets say we magically land the next player contending for the season home run mark….it “could” theoretically happen right. So people will want to buy that guys jersey….but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say buying an Indians jersey with a stupid red clown face on it isn’t that cool. How cool would a McGwire jersey have been if he had played for Cleveland? See what I mean?
        And the “C” is a half ass attempt at a rebranding. If the “C” was better marketed and came along with a campaign that specifically included getting rid of wahoo….then it “might” hit. Right now it’s just hitting with local fans who are going to buy that merchandise no matter what even if the jersey had a depiction of wahoo palming a bottle of whiskey…which btw would conceivably compete for the most offensive racial caricature in the history of our sad little species.

        • Steve

          Out of towners bought indians merchandise only when the team was good. And yes, they bought wahoo apparel. Ramirez was as “cool” as any non-lebron cleveland athlete.

          And you are stuck on eliminating wahoo as the only possible rebranding. But they have done quite a bit of removing him, and it is a fact that the primary logo has changed.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            This is true. I remember seeing a fair amount of people wearing Indians gear in Europe in the late 90s. I was excited to see fellow Clevelanders, only to find out that most weren’t from Cleveland or even Ohio. I’m pretty sure I heard back in those days that Indians merch sold more than almost any baseball team other than the Yankees.

          • alexb

            In Europe? are you serious? I didn’t even know they knew what baseball was let alone would care about the Indians. Did Major League just come out or something? Did they ask you about wild thing? lmfao

          • alexb

            no of course not, a full rebranding requires more than just saying ‘we’re getting rid of wahoo”. It’s been clearly shown that hardly anyone in Cleveland really cares one way or the other about wahoo. But if it comes with a total brand refreshment than getting rid of wahoo is kind of the icing on the cake. It’s not that I think the C sucks or anything…it’s just “meh”. As for Manny, I would need to see actual numbers to make this a definitive statement but I would bet the INdians sold more Belle jerseys when he was smashing em out than we did Ramirez jerseys. I don’t think Manny was that popular outside of NE OH when he was playing here. And he was only popular here cause he was hitting well for us, if he had been playing somewhere else we’d think he was a douche just like everyone else thought he was. Belle was kind of d-bag too but he had a little bit of thug going which I think made his jerseys sell. I was astounded how many Belle jerseys I saw out on the west coast when I was living out there. And he was already gone from the league.

          • Steve

            And did those Belle jerseys not have Wahoos? The point still stands that the Indians will sell merchandise when and only when they win a bunch of games, regardless of Wahoo.

            This notion that they would sell merchandise out of town if they would just drop the chief has nothing to support it.

          • alexb

            My point about Belle wasn’t about wahoo, nobody in this country gives a damn about native americans. My point was that the Indians “can” sell merchandise outside of town if we develop top level players. Thome sold well outside of Cleveland as did Manny I agree…but I think at least in the past 20 years Belle was probably the most sold jersey out of town. Did Wahoo prevent people from buying more Belle jerseys? Probably not, but in the event of a brand renewal it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

          • Steve

            You keep saying that a brand renewal wouldn’t hurt, but most of the reaction to removing Wahoo suggests the opposite. I have no idea where you get the idea from other than you wish it was true.

          • alexb

            So you’re making the assertion that the local Cleveland fans are going to ditch the INdians if they remove Wahoo from the sleeve? He’s already been minimized and nobody’s complaining, I bet they hardly noticed. The opposition to getting rid of wahoo is simply die hard tradition. There used to be a lot of traditions in the country that we’ve moved on from. Stringing up black men for looking at white women wrong….we don’t do that anymore right? Obviously I’m not equating the two but just because something is tradition doesn’t mean it’s right or acceptable.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        “Umm, who outside NE Ohio is going to buy Indians gear, and why exactly?”
        Me. There are an amazing amount of Cleveland fans that took the Rusted Railroad thousands of miles away from home, but our teams still play on the erie lake.

        • Steve

          People not originally from NE Ohio. Better? And you were likely to buy Cleveland sports merchandise anywhere. We’re clearly talking about opening to new markets.

  • Brian Sipe

    just curious… isn’t Mr. Shapiro Jewish? hmm wonder how he might feel with some anti semite symbols on the jersey

    • BIKI024

      he probably wouldn’t care, afterall he married a Shiksa

      • alexb

        If somebody bought billboard space on the drive close to the ballpark, and put some of those nazi caricature’s of jews that Pete had posted the other week…..I think it would land big time.

        • BIKI024

          thanks sherlock. it was a joke.

          • MichaelTheRed

            lol, I think he was too.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Biki, If you have to explain it….
            You know the rest.

        • alexb

          wow did someone think I was serious enough for them to take the time to thumb this down? lol

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    In less-related news, Chudzinski completely avoids mention in this piece on the failures of last year’s Panthers offense. http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/46507/panthers-need-to-utilize-rbs

    • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

      Could that be because it was more the head coach’s doing? (I don’t know, I’m just asking). We know from 2007 that, setting aside all of the Air Chud tendencies, he does love the power run game, too, so maybe Rivera was overriding Chud’s calls earlier in the year and trying to get overly fancy with the read-option stuff. Remember, the Shadow of Jamal Lewis® was able to rumble for over 1,000 yards in ’07, and indeed again in 2008 (although it took every possible carry that second year – if only the QB situation hadn’t been so dreadful…). A healthy Trent Richardson should do well.

      • MichaelTheRed

        A healthy Trent Richardson backed up by another diesel back. Trent cannot be given the workload this year that he did last year. Not with the way he runs. We need a good fullback so maybe we can find a guy we can do the whole two birds and some stuff about stones with. A guy who is the regular fullback but in some games he actually starts as the main back in weeks we need to have Trent sit. Trent has to be forceably sat too. If left up to him he will carry the ball 40 times a game till he’s ground up.

  • Henry Brown

    “the whole, you know, Chief Wahoo thing, and and for the the small minority of people that seem to find it offensive.”

    Was pretty annoying too.

  • DD3

    The people that you are using to shame the Indians in these pictures are the same people you celebrate in photos when its Browns season. Whether its a bark or its a war whoop, it’s the same fans.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Oh, please. Of course there’s some overlap, but the Browns crowd is infinitely more diverse. Anyway, as much as it’s been three years since I posted photos of the Browns game day scene, and as much as depicting isn’t the same thing as celebrating, nobody ever said there’s not an element of the Browns crowd that’s terrible as well. Naturally, it’s much easier to focus on the positive elements of Browns game day. Or at least it was three years ago.

      • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

        Can we get some help for that poor guy who’s being sexually assaulted in that first crowd shot, as the other women run away like cowards?

        I’m pretty sure if you listen closely to the radio broadcast, you’ll hear her in the background, screaming, “When you talk to me,talk English you wukoig!!”

  • nj0

    I hope this will finally kill the myth that the organization is slowly phasing out the Chief. I know I’ve talked myself into believing that at one time or another.

    Between Ubaldo, Brett, and Carlos, it’s good to see that the curse is still going strong.

    • Steve

      I think they are slowly phasing him out, just that is a different thing than completely eliminating him. In my opinion, the primary logo is a big deal. Anywhere you saw something Cleveland Indians, you saw Wahoo. That’s not the case anymore. And while that’s still not good enough, it is a big step in the right direction.

      • nj0

        Call me cynical, but I think the new logos have less to do with phasing out Wahoo and more to do with selling people more crap.

        “the Chief is still on every uniform that we’ve got”
        “Chief Wahoo’s not going anywhere”

        What more will Shapiro have to say and the Indians have to do to convince you that they aren’t trying to phased the Chief out?

        • Steve

          The difference here is that we see phasing out as two different things. You’re probably right, but I’m still taking the C being more frequent than Wahoo as an important step.

          I was in the team shop last year, and specifically asked for non-Wahoo merchandise, and just got some funny looks, so its clearly not an organization-wide mandate. But it’s also not just about selling new merchandise. When they built the new spring training facility, he didn’t make an appearance.

          • nj0
          • Steve

            I’d never call this cynical, and, already knowing those numbers, figured they played an important part.

            But it shows it is clearly about more than just selling merchandise, and they are aware of the problems with the logo.

            I think I’ve made it clear that I think the problem is that the local Clevelanders still love Wahoo enough that abandoning him will be bad business for the franchise. In a place where the logo isn’t so beloved, they drop it.

  • alexb

    btw, if y’all want the Indians to ditch wahoo….buy “nothing” with that red chucklefuck on it. SPread the word, get people to burn anything with wahoo on it and send the pictures to the front office of said merchandise perishing in a blazing fire. Attach your name to it so it’s legit. If the good ole boys in the front office don’t want to get rid of it, then hit em in the pocketbooks. If hardly anything sells with wahoo on it they will be economically forced to remove it from merchandise. It may take a few years for it to sink in, but that’s the way to change this. Standing in a protest line every year on opening day is useless.
    Frowns, start a facebook page about it so they see how many people you get signed up for it. If it can be shown to them they are losing money by keeping that thing around, it’s gone.

    • nj0

      Which exactly goes to my point about the new C logo. Not buying Wahoo (while the rest of the populace does) doesn’t mean anything if you’re buying C merch. Or going to games. Or paying for cable to watch the games. Or supporting the team in any way.

      I’m slowly coming to this realization that being X% against the Indians won’t get it done imho. All or nothing…

      Last year I was the first to rationalize a way that supporting the club does not equate to supporting the racism that is Wahoo. I don’t believe that any more.

      • alexb

        Interesting, so you’re suggesting a complete abandonment of the team? That could lead to them moving imo before they consider a brand overhaul. If nobody buys anything, C merchandise or whatever…that still has wahoo on it, it’ll work. Cause doesn’t the C merchandise still have a little wahoo on the sleeve or something? They have to be told that doesn’t fly. I’m not yet there that we have to completely stop paying attention to the Indians.

        • nj0

          I’m just saying that if you’re going to go the boycott route, if you think that has some hope of working, only a complete boycott will do.

          I’m not saying it’ll work. Honestly, I don’t think anything short of new ownership/relocation gets it done.

  • bupalos

    Anyone who understands marketing and politics at an elementary level can hear phaseout both in the (likely pre-approved) question and in the answer. They want out of wahoo, and have prepared the escape pod, which will be fully launched whenever the dollars say go.

    I actually expect the stadium to be basically wahoo-free within 3 years. Now that there’s an option, this baby is going to cave in pronto. I think Wahoo’s ubiquity is a big reason people fail to see it for what it is. When it just pops in here an there to grin and say “uggawugga” –and no longer is the only thing synonymous with Cleveland baseball– its going to be looked at differently.

    • Steve

      Absolutely agree with this.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      “which will be fully launched whenever the dollars say go.” <—- what does this mean? When will the dollars tell them to jettison Wahoo?

      I didn't study marketing in elementary school so I am dumb about this stuff.

      • bupalos

        When the majority of fans don’t identify with it as “the logo”. So they are on that fast track now.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    Hey kids it is time for yet another Thread Hijack:
    I have finally had the chance to start looking at the players in this year’s draft.
    Is it possible that Brian Winters may still be available for the Browns’ third round pick?

  • partybuddha

    I once was having a shitty day after my apartment got robbed, sulking on the street not wearing my wahoo cap and a native american guy came up to me and offered a few words of encouragement. That was almost 20 years ago, I never wore a wahoo cap again. For those who don’t think it’s offensive, go wear one on a reservation and then tell us how it went.

  • Pat

    Chief Wahoo is NOT racist! It is an emblem of respect for the Native AMerican community.

  • Joe C.

    This is an amazing analysis. I want to root for this team, a result of geography, really, but I get a sinking feeling every time I see that disgraceful caricature. I’m finding it harder to reconcile my nostalgia and love of baseball with such an idiotic symbol.

  • Mr_CO

    Although I’m really late to the party, I have to say that this is a phenomenal piece. In the hoopla surrounding the Washington football team I’ve seen a few different articles on Wahoo where the comments from readers are depressing at best. The amount of accepted racism, the amount of vitriol about “liberal white guilt” and “political correctness”. These aren’t arguments, though. I’ve yet to read an argument for those supporting Wahoo that makes any sense. It’s all accepted racist nostalgia. They don’t think of themselves as racist, but by supporting it and excusing it – that is racist in itself.

    In any case; great to see some intelligent and sane discourse on the topic here. I’ve been an Indians fan since ’89, but live in Canada. Every year it becomes harder and harder to support the team I love because they continue to play dumb on something that is inexcusable.

    As others have said — this city barely supports the team to begin with. There is more to gain than there is to lose in rebranding the franchise. As a marketer myself, I would point the team in that direction. Re-invent; bring back the Spiders. Preserve your history but acknowledge the present.

  • Renate Jakupca

    The History of Art in Cleveland.

    The ‘People Not Mascots’ Logo is meant to be a Native
    American protest caricature of the Cleveland Indians Baseball team. It
    was originally painted in 1992 by David Jakupca at the historic ARK in Berea incorporating elements of the Theory of Iceality on Environmental Arts,
    it has drawn criticism from some sportswriters, fans and local
    businessmen, but gained immediate acceptance among humanitarian,
    religious groups and Native Americans. It gained international popular
    attention when it was it exhibited by ICEA at the 1993 UN World
    Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, Austria and has become one of
    the most recognized anti-racists logo’s in existence. It also caused
    repercussions for the groups connected with using the logo in protest
    demonstrations and this has been documented in the INTERNECINE MATRIX..

    Reference Links:

    INTERNECINE MATRIX http://theicea.com/page21

    WIKIPEDIA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Wahoo

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