The Cleveland baseball team known as the Indians will be changing their name to the Guardians. On Friday, the organization shared a video to Twitter narrated by Tom Hanks in which they announced the change. The name change comes at a time when many other sports organizations are permanently removing names or logos that may be considered racist. The Guardians name will become official at the end of the 2021 season.
According to ESPN, the ball club spent the last year going through a long list of potential names that was up to "nearly 1,200 over a month ago." The process, which included "140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders, front-office personnel and a survey of 40,000 fan," expedited and led to the team officially deciding on Guardians.
The team owner Paul Dolan stated that the social unrest last summer led to his decision to eventually change the team name, a decision the organization had been pressured with for a while.
"We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland," Dolan said in a statement. "Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders."
"'Guardians' reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge," Dolan continued. "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 team colors will remain the same and the logo for the Guardians will be inspired by the architecture of the Hope Memorial Bridge. The Guardians is the fifth name in the history of this franchise joining Blues (1901), Broncos (1902), Naps (1903-1914), and Indians (1915-2021).
"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," President of Baseball Operations for Cleveland Chris Antonetti said in a statement. "We look forward to our team proudly representing the city of Cleveland as the Guardians."
Cleveland had already been slowly moving towards a makeover. In 2018, the team stopped using the Chief Wahoo logo on Jerseys and hats, changing the official logo to a large C. However, the team did continue to use the logo on merchandise. The logo featured a smiling, red-faced exaggerated drawing of a Native American, which many found to be offensive towards Native groups.
"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, an organization dedicated to preventing further misrepresentations of Native Americans.
Another team going through a similar change is the Washington Football Team, who changed their name and logo before the start of the 2020 NFL season. The team is expected to unveil a new official name in 2022. One of the most popular options for Washington currently is the Red Wolves, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. This news comes to us from ESPN.