Day 6

So long, Wahoo: Why this little league team did what The Cleveland Indians won't

The Alvinston Minor Ball Association has dropped "Indians" as their team name and the controversial Chief Wahoo as their mascot. They don't think either is appropriate and they want the Cleveland Indians to do the same. Brent talks to the association's President Andy Triest and Laine Shaw, a 12-year-old player on the team.
(Alvinston Minor Ball / Facebook)

For 60 years, the Alvinston Jr. Indians used the Cleveland Indians' name and logo. But no more.

Last week the Ontario youth baseball club officially ditched Chief Wahoo as a show of respect to Indigenous people.

The club made the decision during the Cleveland Indians' wild ride through the Major League Baseball playoffs.

And as club president Andy Triest tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury, that extra attention helped motivate the move.

"When Cleveland was playing in Toronto, there was that court hearing involving the use of the name Indians.  That was the a-ha moment for me. That was when the scales tipped and I got thinking maybe it's time to do something," Triest says.

The Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo logo is shown on the uniform sleeve of third base coach Mike Sarbaugh. A youth baseball club in Ontario has dropped its Indians name and logo in an attempt to teach its players about respect. (CP/AP/Mark Duncan)

In that case, an Ontario Superior Court justice turned down a request to block the Cleveland Indians from using their name and logo while in Toronto.

Triest says the name change was something he and his fellow board of directors had been thinking about for some time and finally decided to act on.

"It's something we should have done sooner. It's important that we have respect for each other and respect for every community we visit," he says.

The Alvinston Minor Ball Association has dropped "Indians" as their team name and the controversial Chief Wahoo as their mascot. Brent talks to the association's President Andy Triest and Laine Shaw, a 12-year-old player on the team.

Respect for visiting clubs

The board of directors didn't consult with the players, but as 12-year-old Laine Shaw tells Bambury, they support the decision.

"It's all about respect for other people," says Shaw, who has played in the Alvinston Minor Ball Association since T-ball.

"We want respect for the coaches who volunteer and for everyone who plays the game," she says.

Triest says the name created awkwardness when Alvinston played against teams from nearby First Nations communities.

"We would go to other diamonds and some of our coaches would get questions like 'Why do you continue to wear that logo?' and 'Why is this that logo fit for your association?," he says. "Those are tough questions for volunteers to have to deal with."

A little help from their friends

The smiling, red-faced Chief Wahoo was officially voted out, but the club needed help to fully change its identity. That's where Alvinston's community of roughly 3,000 people stepped in.

The club made a video featuring kids from the community and posted it to a Go Fund Me webpage. The goal was to raise nearly $30,000 for new uniforms, a sign and more.

They hoped they'd have the money by spring, but they had all of it and more in a matter of days.

"Getting the kids involved was great and I think that video led to our message being spread far and wide and all the way to Guatemala," says Triest.

They've since added a second video to say thanks to everyone who pitched in — and they promise to pay forward all the money they collect above their original goal.

According to the video, the money will go to helping kids in neighbouring communities play ball.

Opportunity to start again

​Alvinston Minor Ball Association now has no logo, no team colours and no name. That sits just fine with Shaw. 

"It's in the past now. We can start something new and something bigger. We can start a new tradition," she says.

She's in favour of keeping their white, red and black colour scheme, and says she's already spoken with Triest about wanting a strong name.

"I told Andy I don't want something small like the Bubble Bees. I want something big and out there like the Wolves."

Shaw also points out that wolves can be found in their community, and are known for working together as a team. 

As for Cleveland, the season ended Wednesday night in heartbreak, losing 8-7 to the Chicago Cubs in a dramatic and historic game 7. Even after the World Series, they continue to face scrutiny over their team name and controversial caricature.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he plans to discuss the Chief Wahoo logo with Indians owner Larry Dolan.