Major League Baseball has pulled hats that feature both its Jackie Robinson Day "42" patch and the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo logo — the latter called "admittedly racist" by Sports Illustrated.
"It came as a bit of a surprise that a cap for sale on MLBShop.com was available for purchase with Chief Wahoo and the Jackie Robinson Day logo on it," Forbes’ Maury Brown wrote. "Notified of the product being for sale, the league pulled it from the site, said that it was mistake and had somehow slipped through the cracks."
Nothing says Jackie Robinson Day like selling racism with the number 42 on it. Great job, MLB. https://t.co/iWiDIV5QfL— Nick Stellini (@Nick Stellini)1523803841.0
Jackie Robinson Day was Sunday. The date is celebrated across the league — with players from every team wearing his number 42 — as Robinson broke the color barrier with Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
Caps featuring the Robinson patch were available for all 30 teams, Sports Illustrated reported, and Cleveland’s version featured the Chief Wahoo logo rather than the block "C." There is no block "C" version of the hat available from the MLB shop, the magazine added.
The Indians said in January the controversial Chief Wahoo logo will be removed from uniform jerseys and caps beginning in the 2019 season.
The big-toothed, smiling, red-faced caricature has been used by the team since 1947 in various incarnations, The Associated Press reported.
January's decision came after discussions with Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred, the AP said. Manfred told the outlet the Indians noted some fans have a “long-standing attachment” to the logo, but the team agreed it’s “no longer appropriate for on-field use.”
The Indians will wear the Chief Wahoo logo this season and continue to sell merchandise featuring it, the AP said.
The outlet added that the Indians have been moving away from the Chief Wahoo logo amid recent pressure, introducing the block “C” on caps and removing stadium signs with the Chief Wahoo logo.
@MerrillBarr The 2018 baseball season is the last year Chief Wahoo will be used as the official logo for the Clevel… https://t.co/QO4DYbt7l0— Rudie Obias (@Rudie Obias)1523151003.0
What do locals have to say?
A poll of northeast Ohioans by Baldwin Wallace University's Community Research Institute found 62 percent of respondents insisted Chief Wahoo "makes [them] proud of the Indians" while 70 percent said the logo "represents more than the team—it represents the city of Cleveland," WKYC-TV reported.
In addition, 58 percent of respondents said they felt a "strong positive emotional connection" to the symbol, and 60 percent say it "reflects the heritage" of the club, the station added.