The Cleveland Indians have carried the name “Indians” since 1915. However, the franchise is looking to change it after 105 years.
In the wake of the Washington NFL team looking into changing its name, the Cleveland Indians are also looking to change their team name. The MLB team announced on Friday that they had begun organizational discussions about the future of the nickname.
“We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community,” the team said in its statement.
With ongoing discussion on these issues, the team believes the recent social unrest in the sports industry has only emphasized the need for them to improve on issues regarding social justice.
Indians president Chris Antonetti has helped form a group of MLB executives to raise money to help the black organizations fight for justice after the death of George Floyd. The idea of changing the team name was driven by the social instability in the country. He hopes to move the team forward in a more enlightened way.
“We have a complicated history with race in our organization,” he told Cleveland.com. “We can’t necessarily go back and unwind what has happened. Nor should we because we’ve also been at the forefront of some very good things in race issues, but there have been others where we’ve lagged behind.”
Nothing has been fully decided. The team officials plan to engage Native Americans, business leaders, stakeholders, fans, and players to gather information. Although there might be some criticism from some Cleveland fans, the team believes that doing the right thing in these changing times is more important.
In 2018, the Indians abandoned their logo and mascot, Chief Wahoo. The symbol was considered racist by many people.
However, the grinning, red-faced mascot is still present on merchandise sold at Progressive Field and some other team shops in Northeast Ohio. The team has used a large “C” as a primary logo ever since.
After the team announced the statement on changing their name, many fans have reacted to the news. Some were disappointed while some were excited about it. Some were even neutral about the news and said that they would be fans no matter what the team chooses to do.
In an ongoing poll on Twitter, 29.1% of voters have said the Indians should change their name while 70.9% of people have said they should not.
Baseball teams in Cleveland have gone by several names in their history. The name Indians was chosen based on a nickname during Louis Sockalexis‘ time in Cleveland, one of the first Native American players in the league. The team has gone by the Blues, the Naps, and the Spiders.
Some fans and officials thought bringing back the old names would be appropriate if the team were to change its name. Examples of other nicknames that the team could consider include Cleveland Rockers, Cleveland Fellers, Cleveland Crows, and Cleveland Unions.