Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will now be called the Guardians.
The baseball club announced the name change on Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.
Together, we are all… pic.twitter.com/R5FnT4kv1I
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 23, 2021
The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s diehard fans.
The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.
Some questioned the use of Hanks as narrator, but as Vanity Fair explains he has a major Cleveland connection.
Hanks’ first professional acting job was at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. The internship lasted three summers and over that time he became a big fan of the team. So much so that while hosting Global’s “Saturday Night Live” in 2016, he shouted “Go Tribe!”.
He also penned the New York Times op-ed about the Tulsa Race Massacre and how white Americans need to learn more about the country’s dark history. Writing, “Each of these lessons chronicles our quest to live up to the promise of our land, to tell truths that, in America, are meant to be held as self-evident.”
Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the ball club’s name.
In 2018, the team stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps.
However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups. For years, those groups and others have protested against Cleveland’s use of the name as its name and imagery, used by the American League charter franchise founded in 1901.
Cleveland’s move away from the team’s original name follows a similar decision in 2020 by the NFL’s Washington Football Team, which was previously known as the Redskins.