CLEVELAND — As a Cleveland Indians executive, Mark Shapiro says he was "personally bothered" by the team’s Chief Wahoo logo.
But he says the people of Cleveland thought differently. So he worked on building up the American League baseball franchise’s other logo, a simple C.
Shapiro, who spent 24 seasons in the Cleveland front office before joining the Toronto Blue Jays as president last fall, was asked about the Indians name upon his return to the city for the AL Championship Series. The name has been front and centre again this week with Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth’s admission that he refuses to use it after getting a letter from a First Nation person saying such terms were deeply offensive.
Shapiro said during his tenure in Cleveland the name was never an issue "no matter how many native American tribes we talked to."
"The logo — Chief Wahoo — is one that was troubling to me personally," he added. "So when I was an official spokesman for the Cleveland Indians, I distanced myself from the fact that it personally bothered me. But we as an organization with strong support from ownership came up with the ‘Block C’ that you’re wearing on your credentials right now. We built equity in the ‘Block C.’
"We gave that alternative for people and I think that we established that as an important logo and now the primary logo for the Cleveland Indians. And so I’m proud of that.
"I think there will be a day, whenever that is, that the people that are making decisions here decide that Chief Wahoo is no longer fitting. But people in this city — over 90 per cent of them — are deeply, deeply passionate about Chief Wahoo and want him to be part of their team. So that’s about all I’ll say because I’m not really focused or care that much about that anymore. That’s my opinion."
The franchise officially demoted their Chief Wahoo logo to secondary status this season, with the ‘Block C’ the primary logo.
Shapiro, meanwhile, was diplomatic about Howarth’s stand.
"I think it’s great that Jerry decides to infuse something that he feels is morally strong. But I tend not to either support it or reject it. So that’s Jerry’s opinion and I respect him for having the strength of that conviction."