Cleveland’s baseball team goes from Indians to Guardians

Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

The ballclub announced the name change Friday—effective at the end of the 2021 season—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 many consider racist.

The Indianapolis Indians, a Minor League Baseball team that has used the Indians name since its founding in 1902, said in a statement Friday afternoon “that there is nothing new on our end” in regards to considering a name change.

The Indianapolis team announced almost a year ago that franchise officials were reviewing whether a name change was necessary and had formed a committee to gather input.

The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of Cleveland’s die-hard fans.

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over 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.

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.

Numerous Native American groups have protested Cleveland’s use of the Wahoo logo and Indians name for years, so the latest development brought some comfort.

“It is a major step towards righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples, and is one step towards justice,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director and founder of IllumiNative, a group dedicated to fighting misrepresentations of Native Americans.

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 called before 1900, 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 hard-working, loyal, Midwestern-valued ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.

The rebranding comes as the Indians, who have one of baseball’s lowest payrolls, try to stay in contention despite a slew of injuries as the July 30 trading deadline approaches.

“This is a historic moment for our franchise, and we are excited for our players and staff to debut our new team name and look in 2022,” said Chris Antonetti, the club’s president of baseball operations. “We look forward to our team proudly representing the city of Cleveland as the Guardians.”

Guardians is the fifth name in franchise history joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-1914) and Indians (1915-2021).

Cleveland also had a professional baseball team called the Spiders, which competed at the Major League level from 1887 to 1899, first for two seasons as a member of the now-defunct American Association, followed by 11 seasons in the National League.

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12 thoughts on “Cleveland’s baseball team goes from Indians to Guardians

    1. Unbelievable. Let’s hope the Indianapolis Indians remain “The Indianapolis Indians”.

    2. So sorry is somebody else’s compassion and consideration make you feel uncomfortable.

    3. Get a life, Dan M. This is not compassion or consideration, this is pure, unadulterated, woke BS….and it is pathetic beyond words.

  1. So let me get this right, you took over a year, 1200 names in total were reviewed, and you chose Guardians?! Wow, I would hate to see what the other 1199 choices were if Guardians was the best you could do.

  2. You have got to be kidding. This comes from an alumni of Miami University, a school that used to be known as the “Miami Redskins.” Now the name “Redskins” could be construed as a racial epithet. It wasn’t meant as that when it was created but within the context of our culture over the last 50 years it became problematic. I would have preferred that they come up with something more historic and less generic than “RedHawks.”
    But, changing the name of the Cleveland Indians is out of your mind crazy. For one thing the very name “Indian” is a mistake since the Europeans started calling the native population “Indians” because they thought they were in India and didn’t realize immediately they had found an entirely new set of continents.
    For one, you don’t name something that is important and indeed dear to your heart, if you are a fan, a name that is disrespectful to ANYTHING! That is counter intuitive and exactly opposite of what you would do if you want to inspire admiration and appeal. That would be like naming your home town or College or University or High School team “The Village Idiots!” That name is meant to be disrespectful.
    If they can do that to the Cleveland Indians, how long before they come after the state name “Indiana?” And how about our state capital “Indianapolis?”
    That fact that people today cannot see this is mind boggling.
    Trying to cull the known world of history (both good and bad) or references to history (both good and bad) comes straight from the writings of George Orwell. You know that guy, who although he considered himself a socialist, wrote prolifically to expose and fight against the scourge of Soviet Style Communism.
    We as a society have made ourselves totally immune to the awareness of Marxist thought and ideology. This name change comes right from very depths of Marxist cultural change agents and all that that incurs.

  3. I am not in favor of much of the political correctness, but unlike names like “The Knights” or even “Cavaliers” for the Cleveland basketball team which reference a much more generic occupation that could be the same as saying “The Soldiers”, I think the Indians name does represent a particular ethnic group in a way that they don’t seem to like being represented. I think the intent was to connote the idea of them being fighters, in the positive sense, but I think they instead feel like it dehumanizes them into being caricatures. I think we have to respect that concern and that on this issue, in isolation from a lot of the other nonsense going on, that they made the correct decision. Whether you like the replacement name is a totally different discussion . . .

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