CLEVELAND — Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called 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.
Cleveland’s former nickname and mascot have long been linked to Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Nation member who played for the Cleveland Spiders from 1897-99 as the first Native American to play major league baseball.
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. 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 ballclub’s name.
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.
Story by Tom Withers, AP Sports Writer