The Evolution of MLB Caps: Cleveland Indians
The mythology of baseball is sewn into myriad angles of the game like so many red stitches. Above the lore of its 19th-century origins, America’s game has given us a narrative both dynamic and dramatic, which goes beyond the machismo of its heroes and the cunning of its villains.
As the nature of longevity is adaptability, any successful establishment over a century old will have had to adjust to current social standards. From the birth of their MLB franchise in 1901, the Cleveland Indians have refashioned their crest numerous times. At the turn of the 20th century, the “Indians” moniker was not considered insensitive. The Chief Wahoo logo has been the face of Cleveland baseball since the 1940s, but has lately been scrutinized as offensive. In 2014, Cleveland restyled their logo to a simple “C.”
Based purely on the complexity of each MLB team’s insignia in the early 20th century, it’s safe to wager that graphic design was not yet completely conceptualized. Many MLB teams adorned their caps with a crisp capitalized letter, typically the first letter of their city or team name. In its formative years, Cleveland chose a collegiate-style “C” for their caps.
As the Roaring ’20s rolled in, so too did seemingly hand-sketched, disproportionate representations of Cleveland’s logo. Note the “whale tail” serif.
Here’s where things become what will eventually be referred to as classic: 1933-1972. The pin-tailed Cleveland “C” withstood nearly 40 seasons of Major League Baseball with only slight modifications to color and outline. From 1954-57 and in 1962, the Indians’ official caps added the Chief Wahoo face to the “C” the background and foreground, respectively.
In 1973, the Indians abandoned their trademark “C” for good. In its stead, an Eastern-style “C” adorned their hats for four seasons, through 1977.
From 1978-85, the “C” became the same block-letter style used today, but red outlined in white.
Cleveland Indians official baseball hats fully committed to Chief Wahoo from 1986-2007, with a cursive “C” used as an alternate insignia from 2002-07. This was the first time in 24 years that the Indians mascot was stitched into the face of the cap. Slight adjustments were made in shading and outlining for the Chief Wahoo insignia from 2003-07. The “C” was then used exclusively from 2008-10.
The latest edition of the Cleveland Indians’ hat logo is reminiscent of the block letter “C” used from 1978-85. The current badge is a classic navy blue on red, with no outline.
Cleveland Indians New Era Alternate Authentic Collection On Field 59FIFTY Fitted Hat – Red
With over a century of franchise logos bedecking Cleveland’s official cap, the Indians have refashioned their brand 20 times so far. From the classic Chief Wahoo mascot to the timeless block “C” the team now uses, Cleveland will continue to keep its fans entertained both on the field and in their fashion. To stay up on current hat logos or to peruse throwback caps, check out Fanatics for all things Cleveland Indians.