This was originally published at Put Me In, Coach by Basic Pitch on May 7, 2017.
People are not logos.
Today the Kansas City Royals, my favorite baseball team, are playing the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. It is the final game of their first three-game series of the 2017 season. This game is significant for many reasons. If the Royals win this game, this will be the first series win for the struggling team since completing their sweep of the Angels on April 16. A win for Cleveland will further cement their spot at the top of the division. The Royals Danny Duffy will be taking the mound and will be trying to bounce back from two consecutive starts giving up 6 runs. For the Indians, Mike Clevinger will be making his season debut, in place of injured ace Corey Kluber. This game is full of intrigue for fans of both teams for many reasons. For the Royals, will this be the start of a bounce back? For the Indians, do they have the pitching depth to make another postseason run?
Far more interesting than anything else I’ve said thus far, today is also the Kansas City Royals’ annual Salute to the Negro Leagues and Dressed to the Nines day at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals will be honoring the Kansas City Monarchs and will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Monarchs 1942 championship by wearing throwbacks of their red and white uniforms, the Indians will be honoring the Cleveland Buckeyes. The fans will honor the day, inspired by Kansas City legend and former Negro Leagues player and MLB coach and scout Buck O’Neil, by coming to the park “dressed to the nines” in period appropriate Sunday best as if they’d just come from church. After the game, the game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
While this annual tradition has become something of a holiday for Royals fans, today’s game is important for yet another reason. The Cleveland Indians will not be wearing people as a logo. The racist caricature the Cleveland has been using for a mascot and logo for over 100 years, Chief Wahoo, will be absent from their uniforms. How fitting is it that on a day designed to honor the contributions of one oppressed and under-represented group it will also, by default, honor another by simply removing Chief Wahoo?
Millions of words have been written against and in defense of Chief Wahoo, there are millions more waiting to be written. For me what it all boils down to is people should not be logos. There is no one symbol or image that can accurately and respectfully capture the essence of every single person it is meant to represent, so even the most respectful and accurate attempt fails every time. Worse yet, Chief Wahoo fails to even attempt accuracy or respectability, creating a caricature that is as hurtful as it is wrong.
Chief Wahoo needs to go. There is no defendable reason to keep such an insulting, hurtful, and racist logo. Tradition is not a reason. History is not a reason. There is every reason to move on. Cheif Wahoo honors no one. Not the team, not the players, not baseball, and certainly not Native Americans.