Known as the Indians since 1915, video on Twitter narrated by actor and team fan Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.will be called Guardians. The ballclub announced the name change Friday — effective at the end of the 2021 season — with a
"You see, there's always been 'Cleveland' — that's the best part of our name," Hanks said in the Twitter video, "and now it's time to unite as one family, one community to build the next era for this team and this city, to keep watch and guard what makes this game the greatest, to come together and welcome all who want to join us."
The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club'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. The club said the process included 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders, front office personnel and a survey of 40,000 fans.
During a Friday afternoon press conference, manager Terry Francona said the club was trying to represent the city "like it deserves."
"We are trying to be the most respectful we can, and it's not about us," Francona said. "It's about other people, and you have to step outside of your own skin and think about other people that may have different color skin and what they're thinking, and we're trying to be extremely respectful, and I'm really proud of our organization."
Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer's social unrest, touched off by thein Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.
Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people. "Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity," he said in a statement. "Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. 'Guardians' reflects those attributes that define us." "It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While 'Indians' will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians."
The change comes as thecontinues to work toward a similar makeover. The franchise dropped its Redskins name before the 2020 season. Washington recently said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.
Cleveland's new name was inspired by two large landmark stone edifices near the downtown ballpark — referred to as traffic guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River. The team colors will remain the same, and the new Guardians' logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.
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.
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.
Interior Secretary said on Twitter the new name was a "welcome and necessary change.", the first Native American to become a Cabinet secretary,
"I am glad to see that the Cleveland baseball team is finally changing its name," Haaland said, calling the practice of using Native American mascots and imagery "harmful to Indigenous communities."
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.
Guardians is the fifth name in franchise history, joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-1914) and Indians (1915-2021).