Chief Wahoo logo farewell a matter of time

Chief Wahoo logo farewell a matter of time

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have de-emphasized their polarizing Chief Wahoo logo quite a bit in recent years, but calls to shift away from the logo completely seem to have gained traction with the backing of Major League Baseball.

In a statement released by MLB, spokesman Pat Courtney said Commissioner Rob Manfred has made clear to the Indians his "desire to transition away from the Chief Wahoo logo."

"We have specific steps in an identified process and are making progress," Courtney said in the statement first released to The New York Times and later shared with MLB.com. "We are confident that a positive resolution will be reached that will be good for the game and the club."

Neither Courtney nor Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' senior vice president of public affairs, would elaborate on the process, which began last October. When the Indians were awarded the 2019 All-Star Game in January, Manfred discussed the logo issue with Indians owner Paul Dolan and minority owner John Sherman.

"We certainly understand the sensitivities of the logo -- those who find it insensitive and also those fans who have a long-standing attachment to its place in the history of the team," DiBiasio said in a statement released by the team. "We fully expect to work with the Commissioner throughout the remainder of this season on finding a solution that is good for the game and our organization."

As is an annual occurrence, protestors peacefully voiced their opposition to the logo outside the Indians' home opener at Progressive Field on Tuesday. And though the team changed its primary logo from Chief Wahoo to the block-C in 2014, the recent conversations between MLB and the Indians are the first obvious sign that disapproval is a sentiment shared by the league office.

The Tribe players -- or, more specifically, the starting pitchers who choose the uniform each game -- showed an affinity for the logo during their run to the World Series last fall. Though the club had an alternate home uniform combination and a road combination featuring the block-C on the caps, the club wore the Wahoo hats every game in the postseason.

This issue gained particular prominence during the American League Championship Series in Toronto, where an indigenous Canadian citizen filed for an injunction to prevent the team from using the logo while in Canada. The ruling on the injunction, which was not granted, did not come down until around the time the Indians were taking batting practice before Game 3, so the club had to pack alternate road jackets and uniforms without the Wahoo patches in case the ruling went the other way.

For the 2017 season, Wahoo remains on the sleeves of all jerseys worn by the Tribe and on the caps used with the club's home white uniforms and their road alternate uniforms with the navy blue jerseys. The Indians are expected to have a new alternate uniform in '18 after doing away with the cream-colored combo at the end of '16, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that other uniform changes could be made at that time.

But for now, neither the club nor MLB is placing a timetable on the potential transition away from Wahoo.

"Our primary focus right now is on the team and our pursuit of returning to the postseason," DiBiasio said.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.