Chief Wahoo’s days as part of the Indians’ uniform are numbered — this will be the logo’s last year on the field.

Starting with the 2019 season, the Indians will no longer feature Chief Wahoo on their uniforms or hats, as outlined in a release from Major League Baseball on Monday.

Chief Wahoo, a caricature-like logo of a smiling Native American, has been the cause of tense debate and protests for many years. The insignia was deemed a racist representation of a race of people by many and simply a nostalgic logo by others. Protests, particularly before the team’s home opener each season, had become commonplace outside the gates of Progressive Field.

MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred had been pushing for the Indians to limit Chief Wahoo’s exposure for several years. The league had some added leverage once the Indians were awarded the 2019 All-Star Game. That meant Progressive Field would be on the national stage, as it was during the 2016 World Series. During the 2016 American League Championship Series, an injunction was sought in Canadian court to prevent Chief Wahoo from being used in Toronto while the Indians faced the Blue Jays.

Dialogue between the Indians and MLB relating to Chief Wahoo had increased over the past year or so, as had criticism from many both in and outside of Cleveland regarding the logo’s usage.

“Major League Baseball is committed to building a culture of diversity and inclusion throughout the game,” Manfred said in a statement. “Over the past year, we encouraged dialogue with the Indians organization about the club’s use of the Chief Wahoo logo. During our constructive conversations, Paul Dolan made clear that there are fans who have a longstanding attachment to the logo and its place in the history of the team. Nonetheless, the club ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate Mr. Dolan’s acknowledgment that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”

The Indians have been distancing themselves from Chief Wahoo slowly over the last several years, putting more emphasis on alternate logos, such as the current Block C insignia.

In August, Dolan talked during a speaking series in Akron about Chief Wahoo and acknowledged that he could see why some were offended by the logo. He also referenced how many fans are nostalgic toward the logo, with those memories being tied back to baseball. At the time, he said he and the league weren’t seeing eye to eye, but that a resolution was likely to be found soon. Because of public pressure and the impending hosting of the All-Star Game, though, it was clear that Chief Wahoo likely wouldn’t remain on the uniforms for long.

“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion,” Dolan said in a statement on Monday. “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”

The Indians will retain the trademark and thus control over the Chief Wahoo logo. While the logo will be removed from the field of play, it could still appear on merchandise sold in or around the stadium. It means the Indians could still make a profit off Chief Wahoo. Maintaining the trademark of the logo also means that no other group can seize control and do the same.

In 1947, former Indians owner Bill Veeck commissioned the creation of what would later come to be known as Chief Wahoo as the primary logo for the club, though similar illustrations had appeared in local newspapers since the 1930s.

The man who designed the logo, Walter Goldbach of Medina, died on Dec. 13 at age 88. He was a 17-year-old working at his uncle’s emblem company when he sketched Chief Wahoo.

“The last thing on my mind was trying to offend anybody,” Goldbach, an avid Cleveland sports fan and U.S. Army veteran, told the Associated Press in 1999.

It has undergone some alterations over the years, namely the changing of the skin color from yellow to red in the early 1950s, but has been a part of the imagery of Cleveland baseball ever since. That will now only last for another year, at least as it relates to the uniforms.

According to the AP and the New York Times, there were no discussions between the Indians and MLB relating to the changing of the team name.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.