© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cleveland Indians Change Name To Guardians

The Cleveland baseball stadium Progressive Field.
J. Miers
Wikimedia Commons
The Cleveland baseball stadium Progressive Field.

The Cleveland baseball team has a new name.

The team tweeted a video Friday narrated by Tom Hanks, saying it’s time to unite as one family and one community and together “We are all Cleveland Guardians.”

The video indicates the team colors will be the same red and blue, with a slight alteration to the script “C” logo.

The name is a nod to the Guardians of Traffic on the Hope Memorial Bridge, connecting Loran and Carnegie Avenues over the Cuyahoga River, stopping just short of Progressive Field.

The team announced a change from the Indians moniker in December 2020 after 105 years with the name, seeking to become more inclusive while acknowledging the name had become divisive. That followed an announcement in July that the team would explore a name change, amid a Summer of racial demonstrations, reflections and riots after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In January 2018, the team announced they would stop using the smiling Chief Wahoo cartoon on all team gear.

In December 2020, owner Paul Dolan wrote a letter to fans, calling the decision to change the name phase one in a multi step process. The team released updates on the name change, including snippets of conversation with community stakeholders on what it means to be a Cleveland fan and resident.

“Like many of you, I grew up with this name and have many great memories of past Indians teams,” Dolan wrote. “While I have often associated these unforgettable memories with the name Indians, I sincerely believe Cleveland is the most important part of our team name.”

On their website, the team also highlighted conversations with Native American groups.

Many of the Native Americans we spoke with described feeling as though the true narrative of their people — the story of who they are — has been erased and replaced by things like our team name,” the team wrote. “For local Native families, the name can make it especially challenging for children to find a place for their Native identity in the community around them.

Reaction was predictably split.

“When they first announced it in July, I was a little skeptical that they were actually going to follow through with it,” 33-year-old Alyssa Velotta told Ideastream in December. “It seemed like it was very much an opportunistic announcement. Now, I stand corrected.

"Now that they are making it official, I almost feel relieved that they are finally doing the right thing," Velotta said.

Velotta, a frequent attendee of “The Corner” bar and dollar dog nights at Progressive Field, was hoping for the Guardians.

“You want to look for something that is uniquely Cleveland that completely takes things away from the direction they were in, the offensive direction that they were in, what has caused so much pain and make something that all of us can recognize as locals,” Velotta said.

Others felt it was an overreaction and, while the team tries to hang on to its’ history, an end of an era.

“It’s going to take a while for this to kind of settle in to my bones, as it were, and I wouldn’t want to be like the first kid on the block with the new team name because it does bug me,” said longtime fan Terry Kavouras. “It does bother me a little bit that it's changing.

“In a way, it’s a new team, right?” Kavouras said. “Because they got kind of a new ethos, right? That’s now going to be in line with every other social justice issue, I guess.”

The team has not released a statement on the change, only the video as of Friday morning. A report that the team had decided on a new name surfaced late Thursday.