Walter Goldbach, the man who created the original Chief Wahoo logo as a teenager in 1947, has died.
Goldbach, who lived in Medina Township, designed the logo when former Indians' owner Bill Veeck organized an impromptu competition via his uncle's graphics store. Goldbach's version is the hooked-nose precursor to the modern, red-faced logo.
The 88-year-old artist told Fox 8 earlier this year that his drawing was never meant to offend anyone.
"It makes me sad, that's what it does," he told Fox 8
, when asked about the possibility of Wahoo's phase-out. "It makes me sad that it's come to a point where it has gotten so serious, and it should never have come to this point."
Cleveland has been selected for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, and there is speculation that Chief Wahoo will no longer officially be associated with the franchise by that time. League commissioner Rob Manfred has certainly gestured toward his opposition to the logo, and the team has been incrementally elevating the "Block C" alternate logo since 2009.
Though the franchise is long past the point of getting any credit for Wahoo's presumed eventual removal — and they ought to be ashamed — its demise will be a step forward for the team and for the city of Cleveland. Regardless of its creator's intent, the image caricaturizes a race of human beings, untold members of which the U.S. has murdered and banished and quarantined since colonizers first set foot on the continent.
The logo itself has been ardently opposed for decades by members of the local American Indian community and their supporters. In an era of racial hostility and vile rhetoric, relegating this symbol to the Western Reserve Historical Society is the only way to honor the death of its creator.