How Did the Cleveland Indians Become the Cleveland Guardians?
In between the ongoing 2021 MLB season, the Cleveland Indians have been renamed as Cleveland Guardians, which will come into effect from the beginning of 2022.
The announcement to change the name was made during the team’s press conference on July 23, 2021, by the owner and team chairman Paul Dolan.
The event also saw the president of business Brian Barren and president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti in attendance. In his statement, the team owner said,
They’ve been the Indians since I was aware of them, probably 4 or 5 years old. We’re not asking anybody to give up their memories or the history of the franchise. They will always be there and for people my age.
But what urgency compelled the Cleveland-based Major League Baseball team to change its name?
Backlash from Activists Led to New Name
The Cleveland Indians faced a heavy backlash from activists and Native American groups for using "Indians" as its mascot name for decades.
In 2018, fans even stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps.
In addition, the team felt they would lose their deals with their corporate sponsors due to pressure built by any specific group.
In the wake of that, the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the subsequent civil unrest that took place influenced Dolan and other team members. They felt it was the right time to change the name.
Afterward, they arranged a brief meeting with various Native American groups and members of the Tribe Front Office. In a mutual agreement, the meeting concluded the team would have a new name soon.
But dropping the name, which has been there for 106 years, was not an easy task. It was painful, yet challenging, to find a suitable replacement for the team.
New Mascot Pays Homage to the Guardians of Traffic Statues
After days of research and discussions, the team decided to use Cleveland Guardians as a replacement for Cleveland Indians.
In a video posted on Cleveland Indians' social media handles on July 23, Tom Hanks revealed the new name "Guardians" pays homage to the Guardians of Traffic statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge in downtown Cleveland.
In the press conference, Barren also shared information on how the team finalized the new name. He said,
We think Guardians is unique and authentic to Cleveland. It's less about the Guardians of Traffic and more about what the Guardians represent and that idea of protection. For us and our research, Cleveland folks are very protective of one another.
Despite the name change, a few things haven't been changed. The team will be represented with the same red, white and blue color scheme. In addition, the script for Guardians is very close to Indians, too.
“It was important to the fans to keep the color scheme,” Barren added. “We’ve had it for more than 80 years. We’ve had the script for more than 75 years.”
Now with that, Guardians will become the fifth name in franchise history, including Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).