Cleveland Indians announce name change to 'Guardians'

After more than a century, the team name “Cleveland Indians” will be a part of the past, and the “Cleveland Guardians” will take their place. This decision, discussed and debated for years by team owners, fans, and activists, suddenly arrived this week. Now, shocked fans are reacting and speaking out, both for and against the change.

In a video released on Twitter, the Cleveland Indians announced the team will be renamed the Guardians beginning next season.

The video, which featured music by Akron band The Black Keys and narration by former Clevelander Tom Hanks, revealed the name, its inspiration and new logo. You can watch the full video below:

The name Guardians stems from the Guardians of Transportation statues, which adorn either end of The Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field.

There have been calls from activist groups and some fans for decades for the ball club to change its name, considering the Indians name and iconography as derogatory.

Since 1973, there have been protests outside Progressive Field before almost every game by Native American activist groups, demanding the name and logo be changed.

Activists did see a victory of sorts in 2018, when the Indians removed the Chief Wahoo logo from their uniforms and in-park signage, though merchandise sold in the team shop and online still featured Chief Wahoo.

“We are happy they’re changing [the name]," Jeff Pierce, executive director of the American Indian Education Center for Cleveland, said to the New York Post. "We are going to be a hundred percent convinced when they do because we are told this every year. We think the name choice is very cool and very representative of all of Cleveland.

“We’re just excited that, even though it’s 50-plus years too late, they finally made the right choice.”

For just as long as people have protested the name, there have been devoted counterprotestors who believe the team shouldn't change the name. They believe the move was unnecessary or disrespectful to the team's history.

Among those critics is former president Donald Trump, who called the decision a "disgrace."

"Can anybody believe that the Cleveland Indians, a storied and cherished baseball franchise since taking the name in 1915, are changing their name to the Guardians? Such a disgrace, and I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country," Trump said in a statement.

The origins of the name “Indians” is cloudy. What’s known for sure is that the team took the name years after Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American to play pro baseball and an exceptional player, suited up for Cleveland (then, the Spiders).

Some say they were called the Indians in honor of Sockalexis, but considering he was kicked off the team in 1899 because of issues with alcoholism and a decline in productive play, it is unlikely he would have left such an impression on fans and local media (who often dictated team names at the time

In 1914, when the Indians were known as the Naps (after Cleveland star Nap Lajoie), the Boston Braves won the World Series, while Cleveland was the worst team in the league. As they were searching for a new name at the time, MLB writer Mandy Bell speculated they may have been inspired by the Braves to chose Indians.

Ultimately, with the constant changing of team names and limited firsthand sources, it is difficult to know the intentions behind the name at the time.

Paul Dolan, the owner of the Indians, said he felt right in making this decision during a press conference the day of the announcement.

“We do feel like we're doing the right thing, and that's what's driving this,” he said. “I know some people disagree, but if anything, I've gotten more and more comfortable that we're headed in the right direction. And actually, the selection of the name solidifies that feeling because of the values that the name represents.”