Chief Wahoo: The History of a Controversial Icon

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Chief Wahoo

Creation of Controversy

During the late 1940′s, owner Bill Veeck wanted to update the imagery associated with the Cleveland Indians. Veeck had grown tired of the original logos used for the team and wanted something with a more dramatic flare. He wanted a logo that would captivate the fans, draw them in and “convey a spirit of pure joy and unbridled enthusiasm.” In order to accomplish this, Veeck hired the J.F. Novak Company to redesign the team’s primary logo for the 1947 season. What they came up with would prove to be one of the most iconic logos in all of sports.

What the J.F. Novak company came up with was very different from the incarnation of Chief Wahoo we know today. The original version had yellow skin, a large, prominent nose, and a smile that stretched from ear to ear. Incorrectly dubbed “Chief Wahoo” by area sports writers (technically his one feather indicates he is a brave), the logo was an instant success. For four years, the original incarnation of Chief Wahoo would adorn the Indians uniforms until a 1951 redesign would give birth to the Chief Wahoo we know today.

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  • Brian Huth

    Dream on! Long live the Chief!