The Cleveland Indians are a professional baseball team from Cleveland, Ohio. The club is a member of the American League Central Division of Major League Baseball. The franchise was founded in 1901.
Though it is considered that the team was established in 1901, de facto it originated in 1984 as the Grand Rapids Rustlers. After moving to Cleveland in 1900, the club had to change its name to the Cleveland Lake Shores. In 1901, the franchise was renamed the Cleveland Bluebirds, the Cleveland Broncos (1902), and Cleveland Naps (1903). The latest was in use for a rather long period, until 1914. The club got its current name in 1915 and has not changed it since then.
Frequent changes in ownership caused such a mess with the names. In 1901-1916, the club was owned by Charles Somers, but financial problems forced him to sell it to a railroad contractor Jim Dunn, who ran the franchise until 1927. After that, a wide array of owners quickly succeeded each other: Alva Bradley (1927-1946), Bill Veeck (1946-1949), Ellis Ryan (1949-1952), Myron Wilson (1952-1956), William Daley (1956-1962), and Gabe Paul (1962-1966). They owned the team for 2-6 years. Constant ownership changes continued in the second half of the XX century: Vernon Stouffer (1966-1972), Nick Mileti (1972-1975), Ted Bonda (1972-1978), and Steve O’Neill (1978-1983).
In 1986, the franchise was sold to real estate magnates Richard and David Jacobs for $35 million. In 2000, Larry Dolan bought the Cleveland Indians for $320 million from Jacobs brothers. He is still the principal owner of the club.
The only thing that remained unchanged in the team’s name is the city of Cleveland. It was a significant part of whatever the franchise was called. The club got its current name in 1915 after a write-in contest. As the legend says, the name is associated with Louis Sockalexis, a Native American playing for the Cleveland baseball team in 1897-1899.
The Cleveland Indians have used more than 15 logos throughout their 120-year history. Still, almost all of them have been built around either the capital letter “C,” which stands for Cleveland, or the Native American theme (so-called Chief Wahoo). He disappeared from the logo due to the strong opposition of Native American organizations to the use of this image that has existed since the 1970s. The Indians tried to explain that Chief Wahoo was meant to honor rather than to hurt Native Americans, so these days their logo features only the name of their home city.
The Cleveland Indians logo is a block letter “C” in raspberry red. Of course, “C” is not as distinctive as the previous logo, but it is more than enough to make it clear who is playing. The font of the letter is not handwritten but drawn, so it does not resemble any known styles. The number of items in the letter is nine. The present logo looks incredibly like the 1904 logo.
Meaning and History
Over almost 120 years of history, the Cleveland Indians have changed 20 emblems. This fact is associated with external circumstances – for example, private relocations at the beginning of a career and the redesign of symbols. Reasons also include the modernization of the logo, the renaming of the team, and even political strife.
Chief Wahoo has been the major mascot of the franchise and the logo, respectively, since 1940. Zillions of fans are crazy about it, yet some consider this symbol extremely racist. However, in 2014, the uniform design expert Paul Lucas announced that Chief Wahoo would be removed from the primary logo and replaced with the letter “C.” Chief Wahoo remains on home jersey, cap, and sleeves, though.
Before the 1900s, the club used the name of its native city as the only element of its logo.
1902 – 1903
It was in 1902 that the block letter “C” debuted on the logo. The letter served as a symbol of Cleveland. Originally, the “C” was blue.
The following season the “C” in the Cleveland Blues logo turned red.
In 1905, the team’s name was changed to the Cleveland Naps. Simultaneously, the red block “C” was replaced by a blue script version of the same letter.
1906 – 1908
In 1906, the club introduced another variation of the script “C.” This time the letter was more curly and detailed.
The last Cleveland Naps logo featured the same letter “C” in blue, though it was more voluminous and less curly.
1910 – 1914
1915 – 1920
In 1915, the team became known as the Cleveland Indians. The franchise returned to the block C logo, which was given in dark blue, this time. The letter “C” represented the city of Cleveland. Unlike the 1902-1904 logo, its overall shape was closer to the square.
1921 – 1927
The dark blue “C” in the Cleveland Indians logo was rather intricate, reminding the Bruce Double Pica typeface. It was a bit unusual compared to the strict design of the previous logo.
At the end of the 1920s, the Cleveland Indians logo experienced a new fundamental update: the era of the Chief Wahoo started. The Indians unveiled the image of a Native American. The first Chief Wahoo logo was a crudely drawn Indian head in red with three black feathers.
1929 – 1932
Frankly speaking, the previous image of the Indian didn’t look like the image of a real Native American, so the modified Indian logo appeared in 1929. The logo included a chief in a white headdress with a red face and black outlines.
1933 – 1938
In 1933, the Cleveland Indians incorporated a slightly more colorful and cartoon-like version of the logo. The logo featured an Indian chief with a yellow face and black hair. He was wearing a green shirt and a headdress with white, beige, and red feathers.
1939 – 1945
The Cleveland Indians twelfth logo contained a life-like Native American with a red face with a white and black headdress on a red and white striped circled background.
1946 – 1947
A cartoonish image of Chief Wahoo started officially in 1946. The designers added a baseball player’s body to the unnaturally big head of an Indian with a red face and black hair. The Americans called the Indians “redskins,” that’s why his face was red. Chief Wahoo was holding a white baseball bat.
The large head and small body did not match each other, making the Cleveland Indians logo comic, frivolous, and ridiculous. In the 1948 logo, Chief Wahoo was facing straight ahead. The redskin Indian’s head was trimmed with a red feather sticking out his black hair.
1949 – 1972
In 1949, the symbol saw some adjustments. In particular, the nose was made less prominent in size. The head turned to the left, triangle eyes, and the toothy-grin made the logo more distinctive. Besides, the logo was outlined in black. As a result, the Cleveland Indians gained the most iconic logo, which lasted until 2014.
1973 – 1978
In 1973, the designers unveiled a red, white, and blue full-body version of the logo. They placed a Native American inside a large white and red baseball. Chief Wahoo was holding a white bat in his hand. He was depicted in a motion as if swinging for the hit. For the first time in history, the logo featured the team’s full name written in a semicircle above and below the logo.
1979 – 1985
1986 – 2013
A variant of the 1949-1972 Chief Wahoo logo returned in 1979 and remained unchanged until 2013. This image served as both the logo and the mascot.
2014 – present
The current version is a consequence of interethnic intrigue. The majority of the population considered the Cleveland Indians’ logo to be racist since it previously depicted a smiling Indian with a feather. This option was natural because it conveyed the name of the club. However, in 2014, the administration decided to update the team’s badge and approved a different version, the so-called Block “C.”
The current logo is almost the same as that used in 1904. She was in use for a short period, and now the developers have decided to revive her. Thus ended the era of “Native American Chief Wahoo” and began the era of “C,” which continues to this day.
The logo features a graphic letter. She is the capital letter of the first word in the franchise’s title – “Cleveland.” This mark reflects two key factors: the point of origin of the team and its origins. Also, it is considered the main and only element of the emblem.
The uppercase “C” consists of nine fragments – strict geometric shapes. Those that are located vertically and horizontally are rectangles; in the corners, there are trapezoids. In contrast to its predecessor (the 1904 version), it has a wider internal clearance and short anterior segments. Neutrality is the key task of the letter logo.
Font and Colors
Although there is no expanded text in the emblem, it is possible to speak of a typeface, because Block “C” is part of a word. The graphic design of the symbol echoes the classic Bruce Double Pica. But most likely, this is not a printable element, but a custom character, a customized glyph taken from an existing font.
The palette of the current logo is not diverse and consists of only one color – red # E31937 on a white background #FFFFFF. The previous versions also feature dark blue # 0F223E, which is still part of the official range and is used on team paraphernalia. In addition to them, gold, black, and brown are involved in early emblems.