Our baseball coverage may not have a deep bench, but what we’ve got can go the distance. Digging around in the archives this morning we unearthed a championship starting lineup that includes Mark Athitakis on the mystical convergence of God, baseball, and the Midwestern novel and Annie Zaleski on the peculiar faith of the long-suffering Indians fan.
And then, of course, there’s That Mascot. Angela Bilancini covered an Opening Day protest against Chief Wahoo in 2014, Peter Pattakos kept tabs on the “Keep the Chief” crowd for us that same year, and our most read-piece ever, The Secret History of Chief Wahoo has become the definitive piece of writing on the convoluted history of Cleveland’s racist logo, and the reasons it still endures today. It’s complicated, Ricca points out, and all so very Cleveland:
Regardless of where individual Clevelanders stand on whether the image is offensive, we shouldn’t argue with history, or use its omissions as an excuse. The nickname “Indians” and the image of Chief Wahoo are the product of a long lineage that includes a tragic player treated horribly by the press, a beloved local artist who never got the credit he deserved, and a superstar pitcher who was traded away—at the height of his powers—to the hated New York Yankees. If those aren’t Cleveland things, then Cleveland things don’t exist.
Win or lose, we’ll be watching.
For more of Mark Athitakis’s writing on Midwestern literature (and some sports!), preorder your copy of The New Midwest here. Annie Zaleski’s essay on the Indians is anthologized in the second edition of Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology, on sale here for just $10.