(WXIA) – Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig deferred to club officials in Cleveland and Atlanta when asked Tuesday about the teams' names and logos in the face of the ongoing controversy over the team name of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
USA Today asked Cleveland Indians officials about their mascot, Chief Wahoo, last spring. The team issued a statement saying they were aware of ongoing protests against the cartoonish image of the Chief Wahoo mascot. The mascot is a large-toothed grinning caricature with red skin and a single feather coming from its head. The Chief Wahoo mascot has been used by the Indians franchise since the late 1940s.
"I never had anybody talk to me raising that issue," Selig said at a Tuesday meeting of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in Minneapolis ahead of the MLB All-Star Game. "I know that for years, the Indians did polls and studies, and they kept telling me they had no problem. The Atlanta Braves told me the same thing. The local club will have to make a judgment call."
In the spring, Indians officials said the Chief Wahoo logo would remain as the team's secondary logo.
The Atlanta Braves' long-time mascot, Chief Noc-A-Homa, came with the team from Milwaukee in 1966, and was predominantly featured as part of the team's logo through the 1980s, when it was replaced by the tomahawk logo that the Braves and its minor league affiliates use today. Plans to bring back the Chief Noc-A-Homa image on the Braves' batting practice hats in 2013 met with wide-spread criticism. The Braves eventually backed away from those plans, sticking with the "script-A" image that has been the team's primary cap logo since the late 80s.
Some current criticism includes demands that the Indians and Braves change their teams names and remove all measure of Native American symbolism from the team's uniforms and graphic image. No formal statement has been issued by the Braves thus far regarding the commissioner's comments Tuesday.
The NFL's Redskins is facing increased criticism from Native Americans and many other people alike, over the football team's name. The team took on the name Redskins in Boston in 1933. It moved to the nation's capital in 1937. The Redskins' original name when first formed in Boston in 1932? The Boston Braves -- identical to its sister baseball team. The baseball version of the Boston Braves eventually moved to Milwaukee in 1953 before heading south in the 1960s to become the Atlanta Braves.