wahoo.gifTonight I stumbled upon an old Poynter.org column by Dr. Ink (aka Roy Peter Clark) about the best and worst team nicknames and I noticed the following reader comment:

The Indians were named for an American Indian player named Louis Sockalexis. The “Chief Wahoo” logo came along in the 1950, I think. The face is in the shape of a baseball glove, in case no one ever noticed. (Racist, my ass!).

Now, I’d never heard of Sockalexis, but Wikipedia says the commenter might have gotten his facts a little backwards, regarding how Cleveland got its name:

On the contrary, when the “Naps” sent longtime leader Napoleon Lajoie to the Philadelphia Athletics at the end of the 1914 season, owner Charles Somers asked the local newspapers to come up with a new name for the team. They chose “Indians” as a play on the name of the Boston Braves, then known as the “Miracle Braves” after going from last place on July 4 to a sweep in the 1914 World Series. Proponents of the name acknowledged that the Cleveland Spiders of the National League had sometimes been informally called the “Indians” during Sockalexis’ short career there, a fact which merely reinforced the new name.

So, that clears that up, to the extent that Wikipedia can reliably clear up anything.

But what about Chief Wahoo being shaped like a glove? I mean, maybe. But you really have to want it.

Can anybody see a baseball glove in the face of Cleveland’s mascot?

Of course, even if Wahoo’s face is shaped like a glove, that doesn’t make it any less racist.

NOTE: If you get a chance, click on the “Dr. Ink” hyperlink. It’s hilarious. Also, the Poynter column mentioned above includes a few errors by the usually reliable RPC. First of all, the Macon Whoopee were a hockey team, not a baseball team. And the Gonzaga team name, as a reader points out, is the Bulldogs, not the Zags.

31 Responses to “Some history on baseball’s most racist team.”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Coley, by your logic, you’d love to see A-Rod on the Phillies next year. Is this indeed so??

  2. You’re right! A-Rod will not become a Met. He’s more likely to be seen in a Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Angels uniform next season.

  3. Just a big UmpBump love fest over here, huh?

    Let me weigh in on this, if I may. Let’s put forth two givens: 1) A-Rod’s offense can play anywhere, even 10 years from now, when he’ll be playing first base or something. 2) His defense is limited to 3B and worse. Maybe he could play 2B, but that’s not a given.

    Why not, having those two premises, could the Mets not find a place for A-Rod? Wright moves to second base for two-three years for A-Rod. A-Rod then moves to LF, and Wright moves back to third. At the end of the contract, A-Rod plays first base.

    You got a problem with that?

  4. A-Rod has always wanted to be a Met, so let him be a Met. Move Wright first–he can’t throw anyway.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Coping and Blastings, I swear I read this article this morning but now I can’t find it (argh argh!). In spring training, when asked about the possibility of the Mets getting A-Rod and moving Wright across the diamond, an unnamed Met actually said something like, “We don’t need A-Rod’s leadership on this team. We need Wright’s leadership on this team.” Now, players don’t get to make personnel decisions, obviously, but if A-Rod wants to be a Met he may have a lot of work to do to win over the guys already in that clubhouse. Displacing Wright—whatever the caliber of his arm—would make that even harder.

  6. Paul Moro says:

    Sarah, I actually quoted and linked to that article in this post…

  7. The players can deal. Wait, A-Rod’s really an American. Can he speak Spanish?

    That’s a big deal.

  8. Sarah, I would love to see A-Rod’s numbers come to town. But he would never survive in Philly. They radio talk show hosts would eat him alive.

    Then again, playing in the Shitizen, he could hit anywhere from 50-50 million homers.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    Aha, Paul! I *knew* I’d read it somewhere! Wow, all of this winning and no sleep really has addled my brain. I’m high on baseball!

  10. I think the market is much more dry then people realize when it comes to ARod. As a Met fan, I’d offer him 6 years, $192 mil guaranteed (32 mil per), with Year 7 and 8 options at 26 mil or 8 mil buyouts (bringing the guaranteed money to 200 mil or 33.3 mil per, and Year 9 and 10 options at 22 mil per, or 6.5 mil buyouts. That would bring the total value of the deal to 10 years, $288 mil. You can throw in 1.5 mil MVP clauses for the league, and each playoff round. 1.5 mil GG clauses, other stuff like that. 1.5 mil for reaching 600 PAs in years 6-10.

    And I’d sign him with the express purpose of putting him at 2b.

  11. Can’t comment on the true pedigree of the Cleveland name but I remember reading about Sockalexis in SI many years ago. He was a fantastic player, but he was also an alcoholic and really liked to party. He hurt himself at a brothel and his career went downhill from there. Kind of a tragic story.

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