Chief Wahoo Takes Over the Toronto Blue Jays

Baseball cap

Mark Shapiro’s hat for 24 years

Mark Shapiro will become the President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, November 3rd , taking over from longtime President and CEO, Paul Beeston, an old-school baseball guy, whose soft spot for the fans I have personally experienced more than one time.

Shapiro, apparently pronounced sha-PIE-row, is coming to Toronto after 24 years of working with the Cleveland Indians. He started as an assistant to baseball operations with Cleveland in 1992, when he was 25 years old, and stayed in a variety of roles that culminated in him becoming President in 2010. They call themselves the Tribe down there in Cleveland and baseball analysts say Mr. Shapiro will very likely bring in his own people to execute his vision.

My question is this. What sort of vision does a man who has had one employer his entire MLB career, and who has been surrounded by the most racist mascot in all of major league baseball for 24 years, have exactly? I can’t imagine it’s very pretty.

For one thing, that awful Cleveland mascot, dubbed “Chief Wahoo”, was subject of a resolution in the Ohio State Legislature last year, suggesting, the “Indians’ nickname and logo are “an affront to Native Americans” and should be replaced with ones “free of racial insensitivity.””

Click here for details of protests.

As The Guardian wrote in April, 2015, “The Chief Wahoo logo, also has no tradition of honoring native tribes. It was created by an ad agency in Cleveland in 1947 and has been tweaked over time to become its current red-faced, big-teeth and triangular eyes cartoon character.”

Mark Shapiro’s response to a radio show in 2014?

“No, Chief Wahoo’s not going anywhere.”

For another, fan favourite, General Manager and architect of the current team, Montrealer, Alex Anthopoulos, is not sticking around to find out about Mark Shapiro’s vision, leaving us to conclude that he doesn’t like whatever he’s seen.

Given his longtime support for racist icons, how will Mr. Shapiro feel in Toronto, the most multi-cultural city in the world that resides in a country with two (count ‘em … two) official languages? And how does 24 years of work for a small market team with a payroll of no more than $76 million prepare him for dealing with a Blue Jays payroll of more than $136 million and whose fan base is an entire country?

What is Mark Shapiro doing here?

Could it be a new villain has just strolled into town?

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  1. […] My question is this. What sort of vision does a man who has had one employer his entire MLB career, and who has been surrounded by the most racist mascot in all of major league baseball for 24 years, have exactly? I can’t imagine it’s very pretty and I wrote about it more extensively Friday. Click here a refresher. […]

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