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Cleveland Indians to remove controversial logo from uniforms in 2019

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger throws a pitch Oct. 9 in the ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. The Cleveland Indians agreed to remove the longtime logo of a smiling "Chief Wahoo" from their uniforms. Adam Hunger / USA TODAY Sports1 / 2
A young Cleveland Indians fan walks in the stands prior to the Oct. 11 Game 5 of the 2017 ALDS playoff baseball series against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field in Cleveland. David Richard / USA TODAY Sports 2 / 2

NEW YORK - The Cleveland Indians agreed to remove the smiling "Chief Wahoo" logo that has been on team uniforms since 1947, the team and Major League Baseball said on Monday, a victory for critics who have long criticized the image as a racist caricature.

“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said in a Jan. 29 statement that said the team would make the change in the 2019 season.

In discussions spanning the past year, MLB had urged the team to remove the logo despite the wishes of many of the team's fans who want to keep it, the statement said.

“While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019,” Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan said in the statement.

The logo, a smiling cartoon man with red skin and a feather in his headband, was at the center of a legal dispute in Canada when the team played the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2016 American League Champion Series.

Following a claim that the logo, a staple on the team's jerseys and caps, was offensive to indigenous people under Canadian law, a judge ultimately allowed the team to display its logo while playing in Toronto.

The Cleveland baseball club is not the only North American professional sports franchise to have long resisted calls for the removal of imagery depicting Native Americans. The National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks, the National Football League's Washington Redskins and MLB's Atlanta Braves have faced similar criticism. 

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