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Tribe Notes

Wahoo designer is die-hard Tribe fan

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    Medina Township resident Walter Goldbach is shown Monday with his 1946 design of Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians’ logo.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / CHRONICLE

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    Walter Goldbach's Cleveland Indians' memorabilia includes an information sheet depicting the team's logos over the decades. His 1946 design is in the center of the sheet.

    LAWRENCE PANTAGES / CHRONICLE

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Walter Goldbach, a self-proclaimed die-hard fan, hopes the Indians never change their logo.

Goldbach, 87, designed what became known as the Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo in 1946 when he was a 17-year-old senior at Rhodes High School in Cleveland.

He’s looking forward to the Tribe’s home opener at 4:10 p.m. today against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.

Goldbach, of Medina Township, expects the Indians to be back in the World Series this year.

His love affair with the team started in 1946 when Indians owner Bill Veeck approached Goldbach’s family business, J.F. Novak Co., off West 25th Street in Cleveland.

“He wanted the logo changed,” Goldbach said. “They had a logo of an Indian chief in full headdress. He wanted a character drawing.”

Goldbach said Veeck saw the company’s ad in the phone book and called. It was listed under emblems and insignias.

“He came to talk to my uncle,” Goldbach said.

Veeck asked for five or six different options. They selected Goldbach’s idea.

“They gave me free rein,” he said. “I’m thankful for that, too.”

Goldbach said he watches the Indians faithfully on television. He doesn’t get around as well as he used to, which rules out going to Progressive Field. Many of his five children own season tickets, though, he said.

Goldbach said he formerly had a second home in Winter Haven, Fla., where the Indians used to have their spring training camp.

Goldbach said he and his late wife, Barbara, met several Tribe players through the years, including Omar Vizquel and Kenny Lofton. His wife’s favorite player was pitcher Orel Hershiser.

He said he’s happy the Indians still use his logo almost 70 years later.

“It was changed a little bit,” Goldbach said. “Originally, it had orange face. They did away with the orange face and made it red. They also took away the ponytail and straightened out the feather.”

He worries that the organization will alter the logo again. There is some pressure to make it more politically correct.

“I’m a little leery about them changing it,” Goldbach said. “I think they’ll get a lot of die-hard fans teed off about the whole thing.”

“When somebody wants to a buy a hat, they’re going to ask for Chief Wahoo. That’s part of history. History stays with you, no matter what.

“I’m curious to see what is going to happen at the home opener. Usually, they have protesters come out for the opener.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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