Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will change its name to the Guardians from the Indians starting next season, it said on Twitter on Friday, after having promised to give up a name that Native Americans view as disparaging.
The ballclub announced the name change with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks. The decision ends months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.
The team, called the Indians for more than 100 years, started a search for a new name in December.
The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just more than a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.
Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021
Dolan is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before the Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2018, the Indians stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.
The name change has sparked lively debate among the city’s passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which is what the team was once called, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.
But Guardians does seem to fit the team’s objective to find a name that embodies Cleveland’s ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.
Not far from the downtown ballpark, there are two large landmark stone edifices – referred to as guardians – on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.