For some reason, MLB thought it would be kosher to celebrate Jackie Robinson’s fight against racism with a racist hat.
Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated league-wide this past Sunday, as it has been for decades. The day commemorates not Jackie Robinson breaking down the color barrier in baseball, but honors the man who endured so much more than the average person can comprehend. Every player dawn the No. 42 on their back as well as commemorative patches into teams jerseys.
However, the Cleveland Indians Jackie Robinson Day hat included their old Chief Wahoo logo, which is a racist caricature of a Native American.
It doesn’t seem like there was any outwardly malicious reasoning behind this other. It’s just the utter lack of awareness here that has baseball looking foolish.
The inappropriate irony was not lost on Twitter.
The hats clearly in poor taste, but what’s even more concerning is that just this past January as both the MLB and the Cleveland Indians agreed that the logo was not acceptable as the clubs primary logo.
What is even more shameful is that the MLB, knowing full well that selling a racist hat to celebrate a man who broke the color barrier, was more concerned with making money than to show decency. But, I guess it’s not hard to believe that a bunch of rich white guys would either be too ignorant to think how that hat would be seen by fans or too focused on the bottom line to care.
To be fair, MLB Shop did remove the hat from its online shop quickly after the fallout via social media, but clearly, the damage had been done. Note that it was after the backlash.
In a quote from an article in the Hartford Courant, Philip Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio had this to say about the offensive logo back in January.
"“I did say previously that it’s a step in the right direction, but to continue selling this merchandise is like saying, `OK we realize it’s wrong, but we’re still going to make money on this.’"
Sadly, this quote can be applied to this situation as well. And is unfortunate that on the day we as a nation and fans of baseball are supposed to be paying tribute to a great man who fought for his rights, we’re instead talking about more intolerance.
Be better, Major League Baseball.