The Secret History of Chief Wahoo

2019-12-04T12:33:59-05:00June 19, 2014|

By Brad Ricca

The recent decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark registration of the Washington Redskins football team due to the “disparaging” nature of their name raises one question all over Cleveland: what about Wahoo?

Chief Wahoo, the logo of the Cleveland Indians, is kind of like Dracula. He has flashed his white teeth over the city for what seems like an eternity. Even as the team and Major League Baseball has quietly pushed the “block C” logo as the club’s primary visual mark, Chief Wahoo still smiles from the uniform sleeves, caps, batting helmets, and stadium decor. Let’s be honest: Could there ever be a Cleveland without Chief Wahoo? And I don’t mean in terms of any eventual change in name or logo, but in the sheer amount of stuff that the Chief is already stitched in, ironed on, applied to, and inked in. In a town where you might spot a Couch, Edwards, or Frye jersey up at Applebee’s on any given Thursday, Wahoo trumps all of them. Wahoo in Cleveland is like infrastructure: it is way down in the bowels of things. We have to follow it down to its dark source.

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We know that the Chief is beloved—or offensive—for many, depending on who you ask. Weeks before this year’s home opener, the Cleveland Plain Dealer called for the “racially insensitive” Wahoo to finally be retired. At the same time, local company GV Art & Design sold out of t-shirts emblazoned with “Keep the Chief.” Chief Wahoo, in the battleground state of Ohio, still splits friends and family across all sorts of boundaries. Why? Because people disagree about what Wahoo really means.

photo 1In baseball, meaning comes down to history, whether it is numbers in a box score or stories shared over pretzels and beer. Even in the era of high-definition replay, history is the only thing we can agree on. For example: I can’t stand the Yankees, but I can agree that Mariano Rivera was an all-time great closer (with some great entrance music). That’s why we hate talking about changing baseball history so much when men asterisk themselves to get into the record books. We need a baseline .000 to create meaning. We hate when we are wrong about history.

So what if we are wrong about Wahoo?

It turns out that much—much—of what we think we know about Chief Wahoo is wrong. Even the origin of the name “Indians” is debated over. The team’s front office claims that the Indians name honors an old “full-blooded Native American” named Louis Sockalexis who played for the club in the late nineteenth century. Over a succession of franchises in multiple leagues, Cleveland baseball clubs couldn’t stick on a nickname. Perhaps the worst was the old Players’ League franchise, the Infants, who lost 75 of the 130 games in their lone season. In 1901, Cleveland’s franchise in the new American League was called the Blues, then the Bronchos in 1902. The team settled on the Naps in 1903 after Napoleon Lajoie, the future Hall-of-Famer second baseman. But when Nap left after the 1914 season, the team needed a new hero—and a new name.

On January 18, 1915, a Plain Dealer article titled “Looking Backward,” confirms that “many years ago there was an Indian named Sockalexis who was the star player … the team will be named ‘Indians’ to honor him.” But many current writers and historians call foul. Ellen J. Staurowsky first suggested in a landmark 1998 article that the new name may have been piggybacking on the popularity of the 1914 Boston Braves, who miraculously rose from worst to first in mid-season. Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk agrees, calling the Sockalexis story “bogus.” Keith Olbermann just calls it “lies.” The Braves angle passes the common-sense test: Borrowing the ideas of a successful team is a tradition as old as the game itself. Picking “Indians” to evoke “Braves” seems very plausible, especially when you consider baseball’s love of superstition. What could be better karma than adopting a nickname inspired by the team that just won it all?

Still, other accounts support the idea that the name actually is meant to honor Sockalexis, who was, from May to July 1897, a very good baseball player. In fact, Sockalexis was so beloved—he was hitting over .370 that spring—that the sportswriters wrote poems to him in the newspaper. In the Plain Dealer:

This is bounding Sockalexis
Fielder of the mighty Clevelands
All the crowd cries: “Sockalexis,
Sockalexis, Sockalexis!”
When he circles like the eagle
Round the bases, or serenely
Slides upon his solferine
Pie and doughnut padded stomach,
Wiping all the glaring war paint
Off his nasal in a jiffy.

There is an old tone at work here. The focus of the “poem” on his war paint, belly, and nose uses praise for his play as an excuse for casual racism. They didn’t even need cartoons in 1897. During Sockalexis’ magic May, the paper riffed on the infamous words of General Philip Sheridan, stating “The man who said that there are no good Indians except dead Indians … surely never saw one Louis Sockalexis.”

Turn-of-the-century sportswriters really wrote like that. Even when they clap, they get in their digs. On May 6, 1897, in a loss against Cincinnati, “the greatest portion of the glory in yesterday’s game fell to the lot of Sockalexis,” who scored a homerun and cut off a runner at the plate in “a sensational fielding play … that will not be soon forgotten.” The writer calls Sockalexis “Big-Man-Not-Afraid-of-His-Job.” Was this racism, or just the way people thought back then? Does it matter?

By June, Sockalexis was so popular that local ads started using his name to endorse their products, almost certainly without his approval. In ads, John, Browning, King & Co. brag that their wares are “going at prices that astonish even Sokalexis.”

But few ballplayers can play a perfect summer. By July, things took a turn for Sockalexis. In a recap from July 8, 1897 titled “A Wooden Indian,” Sockalexis “played very much like one for once” as he struggled at the plate. Finally, by August 17, the paper reveals that the ailing Sockalexis has been “under suspension for some time because of his too infrequent indulgence in the flowing bowl.” There was even fear of a leg amputation due to “blood poisoning,” among other scandalous rumors.

Sockalexis’ reversal of fortune due to his struggles with alcoholism—and his subsequent treatment by the press—was so absolute that even the national papers got involved. On October 19, the Baltimore News ran a three-chapter opus titled “The Song of Sockalexis:”

All your wampum couldn’t
Coax me from the cup that cheers me …
I’d rather play a date with Booze than anything I know of!
Thus departed Sockalexis
To the Land of Awful Headaches,
To the daffy land of Dopedum
And the forests, dark and lonely

Sockalexis died on Christmas Eve 1913 at the age of 42 on an Indian reservation in Maine. The Plain Dealer called Sockalexis “the greatest natural baseball player that ever lived.” But they go on:

Flattery and homage turned the head of the aborigine: he fell into bad habits and became utterly beyond the reach of discipline. “He was only an Indian, after all,” commented the enthusiasts who had been his most eager admirers.

No baseball player should be immune to the barbs of his hometown press box. But Sockalexis was treated differently because of his race, even when he was great, and especially when he was bad. When Cleveland’s sportswriters were polled in 1915 to pick a new name for the team, did they honor Sockalexis out of nostalgia for an exciting couple of months of play—or was it out of guilt for the way they treated him? Or was it a crack—like “Infants”—at a horrible last-place team? Sockalexis was a failed prospect whose tragedy was, in the words of the papers, inseparable from his heritage. Still, his very presence in the majors was and is still—and I think rightfully so—seen by many as heroic. In Louis Sockalexis: The First Cleveland Indian, David L. Fleitz calls him “the Native American version of Jackie Robinson.”

photo 2The official origin of the Wahoo logo seems much less problematic. The accepted story goes that in 1947, half a century after Sockalexis, Indians owner Bill Veeck hired a kid named Walter Goldbach, 17, who designed the caricature. Goldbach, who worked for a local ad agency, defends Wahoo to this day. He explains that “it was the last thing on my mind [to] offend someone.” After some alterations in 1951 (less nose, more red), the Wahoo image became the version we see today, though in greatly reduced use on the official uniform and around Progressive Field.

But that’s not the real origin of the famous Wahoo cartoon.

The truth is that a very similar caricature was already in heavy unofficial use for fifteen years before Veeck commissioned Wahoo in 1947. On May 3, 1932, this small image appeared on the front page of the Plain Dealer:

photo 3

There is a long history of racial stereotyping in cartoons depicting Native Americans, making many of them, by definition, similar in appearance. That’s part of the problem. Still, this looks a lot like our Wahoo. The next day:

photo 4

Readers liked the cartoon, so it continued, through bad games and rainouts:

photo 5

photo 6

The character came to be called “The Little Indian.” He poked his head out on every front page to relay the previous game’s outcome. He became a visual box score that anyone, including kids, could read.

The creator of the Little Indian was native Clevelander Fred George Reinert, who came up with the image soon after being hired in the early thirties. He became so popular that “Whenever school children toured the Plain Dealer office, they almost always asked to see the man who drew ‘the little Indian.’”

photo 8 montage

“Good old Reiny” drew many sports cartoons before retiring in 1962. He then went into business with his son, worked in local television, and drew official caricatures for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Even after his retirement, the paper covered his activities and urged fans to write him letters when he was ill.

photo 7The Little Indian ran for thirty years. The similarities to the modern-day Wahoo, which it predated by fifteen years, are astounding.

A friend of Reinert’s named George Condon noted in a 1972 column that “When the baseball club decided to adopt an Indian caricature as its official symbol, it hired an artist to draw a little guy who came very close to Reinert’s creation; a blood brother, unquestionably.”

Condon seems to be the only one who ever said this, at least in print. When Reinert died in 1974, he was a Cleveland sports fixture. Yet he is not named in any official Indians literature, or in any books about the creation of the Wahoo logo.

But what about the actual name of “Chief Wahoo?” No one can seem to pinpoint when it first appeared. Reinert didn’t come up with it. “When I first created him,” he said in a later interview, “I had picked out the name of Tommy Hawk, but then I found out somebody else had thought of the name first.” Goldbach didn’t, either. He says that the name is inaccurate: “He’s a brave, he says. He only has one feather. Chiefs have full headdresses.” So who named Chief Wahoo?

“Chief Wahoo” was actually a fairly common nickname for any generic Indian character. In fact, there was a popular newspaper comic strip called “Big Chief Wahoo” that ran from 1936 to 1947. The main character, a naïve, helpful fellow, looks little like the Indians’ Wahoo image, but the name may have been influential. “Wahoo” was also a popular baseball cheer in Cleveland. Peter Pattakos, in his 2012 Scene article “The Curse of Chief Wahoo,” notes that boosters were hand-fed “New Rooting Lingo for the Fans,” including the bizarre, Chewbacca-like “WAHOO ZOEA-ERK!” when the new name was announced in 9

In the press, the name “Chief Wahoo” doesn’t seem to appear until 1950. Wahoo’s debut in official accounts offers a tantalizing possibility of not only where the name might have come from, but who Tribe fans associated it with.

In the Plain Dealer on June 22, 1942, fans are urged to “Remember the name of Allie Reynolds … He’s a real Indian and unless the signs are all wrong he’ll be a Cleveland Indian … he recently struck out 37 batters in three consecutive games” in the minors. On August 2 of that same year: “Of all their minor league prospects, the Indians feel most optimistic about a pitcher named Allie Reynolds.”

When Reynolds—a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation—finally makes it to Cleveland as a September call-up in 1942, he was described as “swarthy, black-eyed Allie Reynolds” in an introductory spread in the paper. He is portrayed as a family man whose lifelong dream was simply “to be a pitcher.”

Allie Reynolds pitched in his first major league game on September 17, 1942 and made two more relief appearances that season. When next spring rolled around, Reynolds was designated an “Unsigned Tribesman” and was uncertain to even make the team. But he earned a bullpen gig with the 1943 club. His early, impressive strikeout totals (151 by season’s end to lead the AL), soon snagged him a starting job.

photo 10

Reynolds pitched for the Indians for five years, mostly as a starter. He worked in 139 games and finished a quarter of them. With Bob Feller serving in the armed forces (Reynolds, as a father, was exempt), Allie became a fan favorite.

On October 11, 1946, Reynolds was traded to the New York Yankees. Since Feller was untouchable, Yankee star Joe DiMaggio reportedly suggested his bosses to ask for Reynolds, because he could never hit the Cleveland pitcher’s fastball. The Tribe got great second basemen Joe “Flash” Gordon in return.

Indians fans can guess what happened next. Reynolds was good with the Indians. He was great with the Yankees. He was a part of six World Series championships, five in a row from 1949 to 1953. He averaged almost 18 wins a season over his first six years. In the summer of 1951, he threw two no-hitters. Manager Casey Stengel said “Reynolds was two ways great, which was starting and relieving, which no one can do like him … He has guts.” In the postseason, Reynolds sparkled. In World Series play, he went 7–2 with a 2.79 ERA over 77 innings, including three Series-clinching performances in relief. In 26 postseason at-bats, he hit .308.

photo 11A surprising nickname for Reynolds’ appears on October 6, 1950 in his old local paper, the Plain Dealer. Under the title of “Chief Wahoo Whizzing,” Reynolds fans learn that “Allie (Chief Wahoo) Reynolds, the copper-skinned Creek” lost to Philadelphia, but “in the clutches, though, the Chief was a standup gent—tougher than Sitting Bull.”

The Yankees are always big baseball news (even in Cleveland), but Reynolds especially garnered a lot of coverage in his old town. In subsequent articles, he is called “Chief Wahoo,” “old Wahoo,” and just plain “Wahoo.”

Reynolds saved some of his best stuff for his old team. His first no-hitter in July of 1951 was against the Indians and Feller (his former roommate). In that game, “Chief Wahoo” retired the final seventeen Indians batters. In New York, writers called Reynolds “Super Chief,” probably after a popular high-speed train. But it was perhaps a natural extension of his previous Cleveland nickname. But “Super Chief” stuck, and that nickname is inscribed on Reynolds’ gold plaque in Yankee Stadium. Reynolds was one of the first former Indians to make a difference on successful Yankees squads, a club that includes Graig Nettles, David Justice, and C.C. Sabathia. Reynolds started a fruitful relationship between the two teams, you could say. Or a curse, depending on what city you live in.

The name “Chief Wahoo” also appeared in the popular Cleveland sports column “The Sports Trail” by Jimmy Doyle. On May 25, 1951, Doyle writes that “It’s great to see Bob Feller show how he’s mastered that old pitching know how” and signs it “Chief Wahoo’s-this” as a possible parting shot against the departed Reynolds. The Wahoo’s-this character (one of many employed in Doyle’s writing), would hang around for a while, making pro-Indians statements, as if to say “What was that other guy’s name again? You know, the one who keeps winning championships in New York?” The first time “Chief Wahoo” is given as the name for the Indians’ physical mascot is in 1952, when a person in a Wahoo costume shows up for a kids’ party at Public Hall given by “Cleveland’s dentists.” Was Wahoo ever mentioned before 1950? That is unclear. The Plain Dealer, the paper of record, doesn’t mention the name until 1950, and then only as a nickname for Allie Reynolds.

Reynolds, despite a 131–60 record with the Yankees and some incredible postseason numbers, never made it to the Hall of Fame. He didn’t mind. “Teamwork was more important than some kind of honor,” he said. Reynolds died in 1994 in his native Oklahoma. His career, and his life, was the stuff of baseball legend. He thought being paid to play the game he loved “was the greatest thing in the world.” His success as a Yankee must have been rage-inducing to Tribe fans.


What does Chief Wahoo mean? Is it “just” a logo or is it a scarlet letter on our collective golf shirts, symbolizing lots of history and people we don’t really understand? With the exception of the Sockalexis story—maybe—Clevelanders don’t know the story of the Little Indian, or Allie Reynold’s nickname. I’ll be totally honest: it wasn’t that hard to find. So are we all that afraid of history?

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.

The true history of Wahoo might not be the best reason to consider a change in logo or name—or even a reason to consider change at all. The discussion about Wahoo is about more than just cartoons or nicknames. We all know that. But I can’t imagine any Indians fan I know not being horrified—no, make that, grab-the-folding-chair livid—that their symbol is named after a guy who won six World Series championships for the Yankees.

And I lied a little about the first reference to “Chief Wahoo” in the Cleveland papers. If you look beyond baseball, the first appearance of the name really occurred on June 1, 1938 when “Chief Wahoo came in second … in the fourth race of greyhounds at Bainbridge.”

History in baseball is important, for so many reasons. But so is karma. If you believe in that sort of thing.


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Brad Ricca is the author of Super Boys (St. Martin’s, 2013), named a Top 10 Book on the Arts by Booklist and now available in paperback. He is the recipient of a 2014 Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in Literature and is a SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University. Visit and follow him @BradJRicca.


  1. Rich S June 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I’m so tired of these critics who are offended by just about everything that does not conform to what they think is acceptable. I grew up in Canton, Ohio loving that baseball team win or lose. My father played pro ball and passed away last year at his home in Massillon. History is tied to this team and those who lived and died with each season.
    Indians are warriors. They have fought for their very lives throughout American history. Perhaps then some may resent the adaption of their bravery as an insult, to them I apologize but ask no forgiveness. We mean no disrespect but honor for a franchise that has entertained us for decades. Changing a name when only a few object is foolish. Honoring history is much more important.

    • PL June 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      History and traditions were made to advance along with culture.

      You’re argument could also be applied to slavery, if “only a few object is foolish”. Your post is insulting to so many, as is the Indians team name.

      Bottom line, YOU dont want things to change, because YOU are the one who is comfortable. Well guess what? The rest of the country and world is changing, and they arent. Shelve your selfish attitude and change with the times.

      All Cleveland teams should just change their name to “Browns” – it fits the city well.

      • Kyle June 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

        History and traditions don’t change along with progress. History is exactly that, history. It’s passed, never to be changed again. Traditions are practices that have held for years. They either remain, or fall away to be replaced by others ones that develop over time.

        Regardless, I don’t think the name “Indians” needs to be changed. The name “Redskins” is much more offensive. The problem is the Chief Wahoo logo. He shouldn’t be eradicated. What the team has done by taking him off baseball caps, I don’t like, but makes sense. (I hate the block C, it is a pitiful replacement.)

        In all of this, how come no one is mentioning the Chicago Blackhawks?

        • Another Nam Vet June 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

          We who are able to think independently realize that the name “Blackhawks” is a proper noun and not adjective which is a caricature in words such as “wahoo” or “redskin”.
          The use of the name “Blackhawks” is in absolutely no way an insult, not even to those such as you who need to be seen as one of the bunch by adopting the “bunch’s” attitudes.
          It is obviously beyond your ability to differentiate between an adjective which might/might not be a slur and a proper noun, i.e., an actual name such as “Joe, Bob, Bill, Marie” and etc.
          There is no offense implied in the use of the name “Blackhawk” and, that is why there is no legitimate protest of the name by those who are actually able to comprehend the subject.
          Have someone explain what I wrote and, hopefully you might understand it.

          • LS April 17, 2016 at 9:18 pm

            The image of the Blackhawks team needs to be retired. The team is named after an actual person and he surely did not look like their logo.

        • LS April 17, 2016 at 9:17 pm

          The Blackhawks are also on the list of what should change. The image of Chief Wahoo is offensive period, and it should go in the history of Cleveland sports books. No one is denying tradition or history, they are merely recognizing reality.

      • BeeEss June 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

        What is that..cause there are a lot of African Americans here?!? Next time you want to be a hateful bigot and stereotype the city and its people, why don’t you crawl back under the rock you came out from under. Also, really hope the irony and hypocrisy of your comment isn’t lost on you. Your post is insulting to so many!

      • Tom April 3, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        You are kind of ignorant. But please take no offense the word has a long history.

    • Nick June 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Native Americans were warriors in North America. “Indians” as you and all the other ignorant people refer to a group of people incorrectly. What your father did makes no difference. We (Americans) committed genocide to Native American groups and then we made them “mascots” to pro teams. It’s racist and offensive…if your too old to see that and hold on to the past that tightly then we will be better off when your gone. Change the name…the t-shirts and coffee mugs will be sold when they change it. If you cant see this then your blind to history, racism and progress.

      • Lightengine January 29, 2018 at 4:22 pm

        One fact that is always ignored is that the primitive indigenous people on this continent were extremely brutal to each other before the arrival of Caucasians. Many tribes avoided the Ohio area because of the Iroquois who not only killed each other but killed other tribes too. Their brutal caricature would not look in anyway as good as Wahoo!

      • John Keaton February 11, 2018 at 7:36 pm

        You are moron The Europeans where here first then the Native Americans came and committed genocide against Europeans then we came back over here claimed the land that was already ours in the first place.

        • reactant July 21, 2018 at 6:45 pm


    • J.R November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      After all it was to honor the Indian player Sockalexis, and Wahoo was after another Cleveland Indian Reynolds, they should be proud that it was to honor the Indian not make fun of their kind. I sure hope the Dolans don’t change the Logo as this is Tradition and this is who we are

    • Haven November 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      “changing a name when only a few object is foolish, honoring history is much more important.”

      What terribly, horribly racist comment. Those “few” who object happen to be people who have been marginalized beyond comprehension. Those “few” suffered a GENOCIDE, and you’re gonna go ahead and claim that HONORING HISTORY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT NOT BEARING A RACIST TEAM NAME AND LOGO? Wake up man, we are 20 years removed from the 90s. No one’s rolling like that anymore.

  2. Greg Wahoo June 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Keep the chief. Everyone else needs to stop being offended by everything. I know your single mothers taught you to be offended by anything considered politically incorrect, to bad you didn’t have a father to teach you to be a man.

    • don francis castiglione jr June 21, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      how very white of you…

    • Hello June 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Wow. Racist AND misogynist. The whole package this guy.

    • Dana the Serb June 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      And he can’t even spell!

    • Nancy November 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      That is one nasty, racist comment. Perhaps you ought to go back and apologize or even go to school so you can learn how to write proper English.

  3. findlay11 June 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    You got the date switched around there — you wrote 1987 when you meant 1897.

  4. Bill June 21, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Both poems quoted in the article were written in the same poetic meter as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha.” Most readers at the time would have known this – “Hiawatha” was very popular well into the 20th century (today, I think, we have lost our taste for poetic epics or, in this case, pseudo-epic). Longfellow borrowed the meter from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, which was compiled in the early 19th century from folk and literary sources. So, Sockalexsis is memorialized in a meter that was popularly identified with Indians, but was borrowed from the Finns.

    Good article

  5. wayne June 22, 2014 at 9:49 am

    we must all be pc so we can sleep at night! now lets start calling man hole covers “people hole covers” now i feel more pure as a person saing that

  6. Another Nam Vet June 22, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Over the time of my life, I have known and/or lived near people from the various reservations.
    I’m old enough to have seen the following Chicago Tribune page as a current issue:

    Sometimes I asked one of them what they thought of the poetical (not political) drawing.
    More than you would guess replied that it was with the sadness of remembering family members and/or friends who have passed, often with affection and reverence.
    All those of you who are the knee jerking “do-gooders”, just to be seen as one of the bunch, probably have never ever realized this or even so much as spoke to an “indian”, an adjective with which more of them use about themselves that you who have never spoken to one would know.

    As for me, when I look at this old poetical drawing, it also brings to life in my mind and heart, some of those in my own family and old friends who are no longer a palpable part of my life.

  7. Jaxon June 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

    If you do not have Native American blood in you, then please stay out of this argument. For those of us that are not Native American, we have no right to say what is or is not offensive to those people. Honestly, some Native Americans find these mascots offensive, but most hate it when white liberals try to get involved and represent Native Americans in their views. What we are doing is removing any reference to Native Americans and how is that not offensive?

  8. Practice Man June 24, 2014 at 9:14 am

    The current Chief Wahoo (the one we’ve had since around 1960) is a cartoon. The former Chief Wahoo (the one associated with the ’48 and ’54 teams) was a caricature. There’s a difference between those two concepts. I appreciate how the advocates for PC purity are unwilling to see the difference. It’s one of those issues that, for me, I’m not all that interested in fighting to preserve Chief Wahoo, but it’s an awfully small matter to invest time and effort in.

    • LS April 17, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      not if your children grow up asking why people are laughing at you

  9. 1353taco June 24, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    My oh my, i have never seen that level of emotion in reaction to a Rust belt article. Welcome to the big leagues beltmag. For whatever reason this resonates with people. Active racism is likely not at work here. There are a couple of heritages that are in play and none of them are all that incompatable. A pro wahoo point of view need not mean that anti Wahoo stances are personal and offensive.
    One approach that i have yet to hear in this discussion follows. There is a group that is sort of the NCAA of our diverse native American community. The National Congress of Native Americans (NCAI), while not perfect, they might be a group to reach out to. They may not be against the Indian name, but are surely uncomfortable with the Chief portrayal. Is it possible the team organization might ask their opinion and input for some sort of graphic symbol that they would support? I think that is entirely a maybe. I can think of several representations that evoke all the integrity, bravery and history of a proud tradition. After all, isn’t that what everybody wants?

    • Red seattle May 16, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      Second generation Clevelander,Western Reserve stock.I would like the City of Cleveland and the team to become thoroughly educated about the goods many warts stemming from his shady past and employ him as a professor of sorts on the Native name issue and the countless others to Ohio and beyond.Much of US fanbase really love him,identify with him.Indians fans are some of baseball’s strongest,truest.Actually giving the love,fessing up to claim the history and organize to give back to country.Wahoo could brand a regional multi phase movement,like a drunk of years that rehabs and starts doing good.But regardless he’s My bro.L wrote and posted about this and Me on My facebook a little bit ago.RedSeattle Go Indians!

  10. Tom August 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I grew up watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and playing Cowboy’s & Indians, so I understand why people feel that Wahoo is innocuous and lovable. I suppose you could refer to those types of images as “history”. But if we are to refer to history, then the real point to be made here is that the Native Americans (Indians) were almost completely wiped out by the European settlers. A holocaust of epic scale. So to maintain a racist caricature like Wahoo (who I’m also fond of) would be akin to having a soccer team in Germany called the Jews, with their insignia being a caricature of a big-nosed, smiling shylock. The pain of this history is too great for us to ignore simply because it’s not our pain.

    Allegorically, if my mom says something racist, she needs to shut up even though I love her. My love and fondness for her doesn’t make it okay. And I do like Wahoo, but that’s not an acceptable reason to keep him.

  11. Bill Johnson August 26, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Brad, Such an excellent, well-researched article. I’ve looked into this issue and written commentary about it and I am very impressed with your work.

    Thanks for telling the story.

  12. TD April 2, 2015 at 12:23 am

    the man who drew the Chief for the Indians is on record about direction given to him from the club, when he made the Chief logo… its out there, surprised you didnt reference it directly….

    grew up w/ the chief but it’s time to let go…. so much energy wasted on something so trivial like a mascot that offends a lot of people; time to move on; change can be good;

  13. Bill Johnson April 3, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Interesting article however it wonders some and is weak on focus. And the illustration is probably the least offensive in the long line of racist symbols.

    Pure and simple; there is no rational justification for keeping a logo that has its formation and origin in Nazi and KKK playbooks. Everyone knows that if we stereotyped another ethnic group (one with more members and or political influence) with such a characterization there would be riots.

    And, just to clarify a common and continuing error – the term Brave does not refer to heroism as in brave soldier. The term Brave from its origin refers to a savage, caveman like stereotype – think Neanderthal.

    The Cleveland baseball team can keep the misnamed Indians moniker but let’s find a more respectful team logo.

    If I had a vote, I’d prefer to return to the old SPIDERS name. I hate spiders and they are some of the few things that scare me.

  14. Jim April 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Right or wrong, history is history. There are many more important issues facing our world than the innocent logo of the Cleveland Indians baseball club. When I see Chief Wahoo I think of Cleveland baseball not real native Americans. “Long Live The Chief”. Go Tribe.

  15. The Second May 6, 2016 at 9:58 am

    It is irritating that people find the logo offensive when it is meant to honor our history. I don’t know about anyone else but for me if someone were to honor me I would not feel insulted.
    Apart from that sure his face is red but his hair is blue his headband is white his teeth are white his feather is red.
    His hair is blue
    Red white and blue. That is the colors of the American flag.
    If his face was either white or blue it would be worse.

  16. Ya Boy May 18, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Is there any problem with the Cleveland asians or the Cleveland hispanics? I Rest my case. Stop commenting on these articles if you have a problem. There is no problem. They are just words and pictures. Stop rooting for such a bad baseball team. The team should worry more about acquiring good players rather than the logo on their uniforms.

    • Michael October 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Such a bad baseball team? You mean the team that’s currently in the World Series? Wow you should research before commenting.

    • Michael October 28, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      And you can always tell when somebody’s just being a troll when they try to divert the main topic by trying to talk about how bad or good the team is instead of sticking to the subject. As if the team’s performance has anything to do with its name or logo.

  17. NotEvenATribeFan September 28, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Then a few weeks later they win 14 games in a row.

  18. Sylvia October 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I can’t help it. I love Chief Wahoo. I live in California, but was born in Akron and was the only baseball fan in my family. This was in the 1950’s. I have a friend who is married to an Indian (she tells me they prefer this to native American) and we’ve argued about Chief Wahoo. I agree that the Washington football team needs to lose their name. But Indians isn’t disrespectful. And Chief Wahoo has always seemed like a benevolent, smiling mascot. This year is exciting. Go Tribe!

  19. Ed Rice October 24, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Well done article overall. I am Ed Rice, author of Baseball’s First Indian (Tide-mark Press, 2003), and I could have helped you with some of your facts and your speculations. For example, Sockalexis is not a “full-blooded Indian”… No one on the Penobscot Nation Indian Island was full-blooded after around 1850 because of intermarriage involving so few Indian families and so many white/French-Canadian people in the area, principally employed in the logging industry. Any way, for anyone really interested in more information about Sockalexis I have a web site at

  20. frogman October 26, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    can’t we all just get along

  21. aman October 27, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Nap Lajoie cried.

  22. practice man November 2, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    The writer uses an important word…caricature. The 1948 Wahoo, to me, appears to be a caricature of an American Indian. The current Wahoo is a cartoon. The distinction is important, but I wouldn’t expect anyone in this PC/”you’re a racist” climate to appreciate that.

  23. Ohio Historian December 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Honor goes to the Cleveland Indians as well as to history as not everyone needs to be “politically correct” changing tradition to fit ones political leftist liberal ideas of the far west coast of America or the far north east coast of America and not mid-west geographic Ohio ideas. Keep the Indians in Cleveland with Chief Wahoo!!!!

  24. docweasel April 9, 2017 at 12:56 am

    Being offended for someone else is condescending and insulting. Polls show that over 3/4 of Indians who give an opinion don’t mind the Redskins, Indians nor any other “native american” team name. It’s left to white liberals to be offended FOR them, like the poor red men are too dumb to be offended, we virtue signalling white people must stand up for them until they are properly educated in victimology. Actually, given the high value leftists have created for victim classes it’s to the Indian’s credit they haven’t claimed their prize: a ranking in the victim olympics, somewhere between black lesbians and latinax transexuals, but beneath muslims, who at the moment outrank even gays on the victim totem pole.

  25. Joe Tassinari January 19, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Identify as “human” first and foremost. This is the most accurate way to view each other.
    Everything else:
    • Ethnicity
    • Gender
    • Which ball team you root for …
    is secondary and not as important as being human.

  26. Bob Mann January 30, 2018 at 1:02 am

    Leave history alone, you cannot change it. Leave the confederate statues and gravesights alone, leave Chief Wahoo alone and go get a job and stop protesting over anything that might irk you. Long live Chief Wahoo.

  27. Michael Fox May 7, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    What about the Dallas Cowboys? Shouldn’t we force Dallas to change their name? Aren’t we making a mockery of all of the men and women who rode the range, getting the beef to market? Can we be consistent? And those cartoonish Pirates. Who will stand up and advocate for the Buccaneers of ages past? And what of the team named after the Trolley Dodgers of Brooklyn? What memories does this bring to the many great great great grandchildren whose ancestors were slaughtered by speeding mass transit on the streets of Flatbush? What if we just rebranded every sport team as The Generics? The John Does? The Chicago Baseball Guys will take on the Los Angeles Baseball Guys today at Wrigley Field. Sheesh.

  28. six sigma certification eligibility May 16, 2018 at 1:31 am

    six sigma certification eligibility

    Such a terrible baseball group? You mean the group that is at present in the World Series? Wow you should look into before remarking.

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