Paul Dolan, Indians owner, was riding his bike across a bridge over the Cuyahoga River near Progressive Field. He didn’t pay much attention to eight large stone figures that appear to guard the city.
They now have a new meaning
The Guardians are Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team, which has been around for more than 100 years.
The Indians are moving, going, and soon will be gone.
Friday’s announcement by the ballclub stated that the Indians would change their name to Guardians at the close of the 2021 season. They hope this will inspire a new generation.
The name change has both its supporters and critics in Cleveland’s fan base. It ends months of internal talks triggered by a national reckoning that allowed institutions and teams to drop logos or names they consider racist.
Dolan stated that “we do feel like doing the right thing” and that this is what drove the news conference held at the ballpark. While I understand that there are differences, I feel more confident that we are moving in the right direction.
“And in fact, the choice of the name reinforces that feeling due to the values it represents.”
The organization spent the majority of the year narrowing down a list that included nearly 1,200 names. The tedious process involved 140 hours of interviews with community leaders and fans as well as a survey of nearly 40,000 fans.
Dolan stated that last summer’s unrest, triggered by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis led him to change his name. This move came just a few years after the Indians had stopped wearing the Chief Wahoo logo as a cap or on their jerseys.
The Hope Memorial Bridge connects Cleveland to Ohio City and is flanked by large landmark stone edifices, also known as traffic guardians.
Dolan stated that he was drawn to the large art deco sculptures as the team drew closer to finalizing the name.
He said, “Frankly I hadn’t looked at them that closely until we began talking about them. I should emphasize that we’re not named for the bridge but it’s clear that it’s a strong nod towards those and what that means to the community.”
Although the team didn’t reveal the names of any other finalists in the competition, Brian Barren (Cleveland’s president of business operations), said that several candidates were eliminated due to trademarking issues.
The team concluded that Guardians was the perfect fit.
Barren stated that Guardians was unique and authentic to Cleveland. It’s not about Guardians of Traffic, but more about what Guardians of Traffic represent and the idea of protection. According to our research, Clevelanders are extremely protective of each other.
They protect our city and the land. This is one of the key components, the resilience of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio residents and their loyalty.
The name change to Cleveland comes as Washington Football Team works towards a similar transformation. The Redskins name was dropped by the franchise before 2020 and it recently announced that it would unveil a new logo and name in 2022.
Cleveland will drop the Indians but it will retain its red, white, and navy team colors. The Guardians’ logos will include some of the lettering style used by the team on past uniforms and architectural features on the bridge.
Many Native American groups have been protesting Cleveland’s use Wahoo logos and Indians names for many years. The latest developments brought some relief.
Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of IllumiNative (a group that fights misrepresentations about Native Americans), said, “It’s a major step towards righting all the wrongs committed towards Native peoples and it is one step towards justice.”
Fans of the sport have been engaged in lively discussion about the name change. Social media users encouraged supporters to suggest other names for the team, such as the Spiders (which is what they were called before 1900).
Dolan is aware that there may be a segment of Cleveland’s fans who will never accept the change.
He said, “I’m 63, and they have been the Indians ever since I was aware, probably since I’ve been 4 or 5 years old. So it will take a while.” We’re not asking anyone to let go of their memories or the history that has been part of this franchise. For people my age or older, the majority of our lives will be spent as Indians and not as Guardians.
Terry Francona, manager of the Indians, has deep ties to the club. His father, Tito Francona, was a player for the Indians during the 1960s.
Francona moved closer to enjoy a better view of the news conference as a moving video, narrated Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks.
Francona is currently in his ninth season as Cleveland’s on-field leader. He planned to show the video before Friday’s match. Francona feels that the team is making the right decision despite some backlash.
He said, “What is important is how people who are different — not more, but just different — feel about it.” “We are trying to be respectful, trying to unite. Change isn’t always easy. I understand that. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Guardians is the fifth franchise name, joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (2002), Naps (1903-1914), and Indians (1915-2021).