CLEVELAND -- Chris Sockalexis, a descendent of former Cleveland baseball player Louis Sockalexis, believes the Indians did the right thing by announcing plans to abandon Chief Wahoo following the 2018 season.
A tribal historic preservation officer with the Penobscot Indian Nation in eastern Maine, Sockalexis is happy Chief Wahoo will not be representing the franchise in any on-field gear or on signage in and around Progressive Field in the near future.
"It's a great move on behalf of Major League Baseball to recognize the fact that dehumanizing any race or any creed of man is wrong," Sockalexis told CBC.ca Monday.
A left-handed hitting right fielder from Indian Island, Maine, Sockalexis played 94 games for the Cleveland Spiders from 1897-1899. Sockalexis had 115 hits in 395 at-bats (.313 batting average) with 12 doubles, eight triples and three home runs along with 55 RBI and 54 runs scored.
The nickname “Indians” was chosen as a way to honor Sockalexis, and while eliminating the use of the Chief Wahoo logo is a welcomed change, that decision will not “mend the pain” it has caused since the emblem’s inception.
“For me, it never really represented Louis at all,” Sockalexis said. “It was just a bad caricature.”
First utilized on Cleveland’s uniforms in 1948, the Chief Wahoo logo has brought out passion from both sides of the debate, including from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who cited the need for “diversity and inclusion” in the statement announcing the elimination of its on-field use.
The Indians will retain the trademark of Chief Wahoo, and while the logo will remain on items for sale in the team shop and stores around the Cleveland area, it will not be anywhere on the field or signage in and around the stadium.
Additionally, MLB.com has confirmed that it will not sell any merchandise with the likeness of Chief Wahoo following the 2018 season.
The elimination of on-field usage of Chief Wahoo coincides with the fact that the Indians are set to host the MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field in 2019.