CLEVELAND, OH (KSNT) – Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians announced they’re changing their name to the Guardians.
The ballclub announced the name change Friday — effective at the end of the 2021 season — with a video on Twitter narrated by actor and team fan Tom Hanks. The decision ends months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to drop logos and names considered racist.
The team posted a 2-minute long video on their Twitter account revealing the name change, ending the video with a voiceover saying, “Together we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
The organization announced in December that it would be changing the name for the first time since 1915 after years of controversy and recent pressure from Major League Baseball.
The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans, some of whom quickly went on social media to vent.
Over the last several months, the Indians met with fans and community leaders, resulting in a list of nearly 1,200 potential names.
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, which the club said included 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders, front office personnel and a survey of 40,000 fans.
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.
“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.”
The club said it has three main themes for a new name: preserving Cleveland baseball history, uniting the community and connecting to the city of Cleveland.
“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.”
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’s colors will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new 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.
“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.
“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).
MLB said the name will into effect after the 2021 season.