Chief Wahoo has been a Cleveland Indians fixture since the 1940s but became the target of mounting protests, particularly from Native American communities rightly offended by the grinning, red-faced cartoon. Recent years saw a slow de-emphasis of its use. Wahoo was first kicked off the team’s road cap, then the home batting helmet, and two years ago was demoted as the team’s primary logo in favor of the block-C symbol. Then the announcement earlier this year that the 2019 season would open with the caricature no longer appearing on the team’s uniforms.
Pushing the team in the right direction was the Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who made clear that harm was being done — not only to Native Americans but also to baseball — by the mascot’s continued use. “Major League baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” said Mr. Manfred. Cleveland’s selection to host the 2019 All-Star Game was reportedly linked to Wahoo’s jettisoning. Mr. Manfred’s actions stand in stark contrast to that of National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, who regrettably has sat on his hands as Washington football team owner Dan Snyder has doubled down on his team’s racist moniker.
Vowing to “never” change the team’s nickname, Mr. Snyder has invoked football history and tradition. Jim Thome, Cleveland’s famed slugger, also loves and appreciates the history of his sport, but when it was announced this year that he would be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, he asked that his bronze plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y., include the block-C logo, not Chief Wahoo. His reason: “It’s the right thing to do.” That’s a concept that Mr. Goodell and Mr. Snyder ought to wrap their minds around.