As the Cleveland Indians battle it out in the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, their controversial Chief Wahoo logo is once being shoved into the faces of sports fans around the country.
Where did the infamous Chief Wahoo logo – red face, big eyes and toothy grin – come from? Prior to 1928, the team had only used the letter “C” for a logo or spelled out Cleveland.
Here is a pictorial history of the ‘face’ of the Cleveland Indians.
First Indian logo – 1928
The first logo used by Cleveland was a crudely drawn Indian head with three feathers. The logo only lasted one season.
Red and White Headdress Image – 1929 – 1932
The following season’s image was of a chief in a headdress with a red face and black outlines. The logo lasted a few seasons.
Green Shirt Yellow Face Chief – 1933 – 1938
In 1933, the team incorporated a slightly more colorful version of the logo, using an Indian ‘chief’ image wearing a yellow and red headdress and a green shirt.
Red Face Headdress Chief and a Circle Background – 1939 – 1945
In 1939, Cleveland moved on to a Native American with a red face with a white and black headdress on a red and white striped circled background.
A cartoonish image similar to today’s Chief Wahoo started ‘officially’ in 1947
In 1947, Indians owner Bill Veeck hired a 17-year-old ad agency artist named Walter Goldbach to design an Indian face for the team’s logo. Though Fred G. Reinert had been drawing a well-known character “The Little Indian” 15 years prior to the creation of Goldbach’s logo, Reinert had never been credited with any influence on the logo – though it was similar in design.
The logo was not yet referred to as Chief Wahoo. That name didn’t appear until after 1950.
The Cleveland Indians also added a body a year later and changed the mascot indian color to red. The logo remained in use until 1950.
The Chief Wahoo We Know Today – 1951 – 1972
In 1951, the mascot got a smaller nose, triangle eyes and the toothy-grin. With only minor adjustments since, the design has stayed the same until today.
Red White and Blue – 1973 – 1979
In 1973, a red, white and blue full-body version of the logo made its way onto uniforms which lasted until 1979.
Chief Wahoo Returns – 1980 – 2014
Other than a small blue outline instead of a black outline, (or a white outline on blue baseball caps in 1986) the Chief Wahoo has remained unchanged from its 1951 inception.
Chief Wahoo or a Big “C” – 2014 to Today
The team switched to a block letter “C” in lieu of the Chief Wahoo logo on hats in 2014, but the sentiment didn’t really stick as Chief Wahoo still rests on caps, uniforms and many items for sale in the MLB Indians merchandise online gift store.
The largest proof of the sentiment is the presence of Chief Wahoo on caps at the MLB’s 2016 American League Championship Series and World Series games.