The Indians won in court. Then they won on the ball field.
A Canadian judge ruled against activists seeking to ban the nickname “Indians” and Cleveland’s “Chief Wahoo” logo in games played at the Rogers Centre and on broadcasts in the Great White North. The plaintiffs called the name and logo discriminatory. Lest the Toronto Blue Jays endure unfair charges of gamesmanship, the team also got dragged into the legal dispute as a defendant.
“The Indians are focused on competing in the postseason,” the baseball franchise noted in a statement. “We will not comment any further on matters that distract from our pursuit on the field.”
Plaintiff Douglas Cardinal issued a much less muted response. He called the courtroom defeat “a victory in that we have elevated awareness of this serious issue at a national—and even international—level.”
Whether the campaign extends to the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Eskimos, and other Canadian sports franchises highlighting heritage remains unclear. The plaintiff claimed that a Big Apple sports franchise would never call itself the “New York Jews.” But the New York Yankees and Knicks boast nicknames hearkening back to the city’s New Amsterdam origins.
“Major League Baseball appreciates the concerns of those that find the name and logo of the Cleveland Indians to be offensive,” MLB informed. “We would welcome a thoughtful and inclusive dialogue to address these concerns outside the context of litigation. Given the demands for completing the League Championship Series in a timely manner, MLB will defend Cleveland’s right to use their name that has been in existence for more than 100 years.”
Despite playing away, Cleveland donned uniforms bearing “Indians” on the jerseys. Their caps included Chief Wahoo above the bill despite the block “C” logo appearing on the team’s “primary” hat. Undefeated in the postseason, the Indians wore Chief Wahoo caps in each of these victories. Baseball players, a superstitious lot, perhaps bowed to the streak’s fashion logic rather than rubbed in their courtroom victory in selecting the cap, which ultimately comes down to a decision by the starting pitcher.
Though Trevor Bauer bowed out of the game with a bleeding finger after facing a few batters, Cleveland rebounded by taking the second game of the court-field doubleheader and the third game of the series 4-2.