Update: It appears MLB has removed the cap from its online store. Original Chief Wahoo hats, however, are still available for purchase.
Original Story: For a league now claiming the Cleveland Indians ‘Chief Wahoo’ logo is no longer appropriate and will be retired after 2018, Major League Baseball sure is going out of its way to make a quick buck off the image before it no longer can.
The latest, and perhaps most tone deaf, attempt to do so comes on one of baseball’s most celebrated and significant holidays: Jackie Robinson Day. As athletes and civil rights figures across the country remember Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier on this day in 1947, the Indians have decided it is perfectly acceptable to sell a Chief Wahoo hat with a special edition Jackie Robinson patch affixed to its side.
Nothing says Jackie Robinson Day like selling racism with the number 42 on it. Great job, MLB. pic.twitter.com/iWiDIV5QfL
— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) April 15, 2018
The mental gymnastics required to justify these two logos together are nothing short of breathtaking — and not in a good way — but for those who still need it spelled out, here’s why:
Chief Wahoo has long been considered a racist logo and has created considerable tension between Native American groups and a professional sports team. Despite numerous requests to stop using the logo, fans and the league alike have continued to prominently display Chief Wahoo and sell merchandise bearing its likeness, though the Indians have scaled back on its use and opted for a block ‘C’ primary logo in recent years.
Last January, MLB and the team agreed the logo is “no longer appropriate” and will stop using it, but not until the 2019 season. At the Indians home opener, numerous fans were caught taunting Native Americans who lined the outside of Progressive Field to protest the logo.
Which is why it makes absolutely no sense to pair Chief Wahoo with a logo that’s meant to represent inclusion, not only in the sport, but around the country as well.
The MLB Shop website is selling at least three different styles of the cap, to say nothing of a version celebrating the team’s upcoming Puerto Rico series. In any case, it’d be nice to hear someone from the Indians or Major League Baseball try to explain why an unacceptable caricature is being celebrated alongside a civil rights icon.
At least we know the league’s standards are only worth about $37.99 plus shipping.
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