Cleveland’s Major League Baseball franchise, which has been known as the Indians since 1915, will now be known as the Guardians.
The team announced the name change on Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, capping months of internal debate sparked by a national call for institutions and teams to permanently ditch racist insignia and names.
The new name will take effect at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
The group spent most of the previous year narrowing down a list of potential candidates that had grown to about 1,200 individuals just over a month ago. However, the process moved rapidly, and the club chose Guardians.
Last summer’s social unrest, sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, prompted team owner Paul Dolan to announce his plan to rename the team.
“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.”
He explained, “‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. 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 Indians retired the disputed Chief Wahoo design from their jerseys and helmets in 2018. The team, on the other hand, continues to sell items with the smiling, red-faced caricature that has sparked decades of outrage from Native Americans.
The name change has caused heated controversy among the city’s sports lovers and supporters on social media advocated for other names, such as the Spiders, which was used by a now-defunct Cleveland franchise.
The Guardians will join the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-1914), and Indians (1915-2021) as the franchise’s fifth name in history.
“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 Chris Antonetti said in a statement. “We look forward to our team proudly representing the city of Cleveland as the Guardians.”
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021