ESPN, July 23, 2021
Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will next be called the Guardians.
The ballclub announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.
The name change is effective at the end of the 2021 season.
Cleveland’s new name was inspired by the large landmark stone edifices — referred to as traffic guardians — that flank both ends of the Hope Memorial Bridge, which connects downtown to Ohio City. As the team moved closer to making a final decision on the name, team owner Paul Dolan said he found himself looking closely at the huge art deco sculptures.
Dolan has said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the club’s name.
“We do feel like we’re doing the right thing and that’s what’s driving this,” Dolan said. “I know some people disagree, but if anything I’ve gotten more and more comfortable that we’re headed in the right direction.
“And actually, the selection of the name solidifies that feeling because of the values that the name represents.”
Dolan said he knows there’s a portion of Cleveland’s fan base that might never accept the change.
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 has drawn protests from Native American groups for decades.
“It is a major step toward righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples and is one step toward justice,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director and founder of IllumiNative, a group dedicated to fighting misrepresentations of Native Americans.