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Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team has changed its name to the Guardians from the Indians starting next season, it announced Friday on Twitter, after promising to give up a name that Native Americans and millions worldwide perceived as disparaging and racist.
The ballclub announced the name change by releasing a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, and the decision ends months of internal discussions catalyzed by a national reckoning from institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names many consider to be racist.
The team, which was called the Indians for more than 100 years, started to search for a new name in December 2020.
The organization spent most of this year choosing from a list of potential names that was at more 1,200 just more than a month ago, but the process quickly accelerated and the club finally decided on Guardians.
Franchise owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the team's name.
Dolan will provide further details on the name change at a press conference at Progressive Field before the Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2018, the Indians decided to stop wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps, although the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature of a Native American chief that was protested for decades by indigenous groups.
The name change has led to ferocious debate among the city’s passionate sports fans, as other names, including the Spiders, how the team was once called, were advocated for by supporters on social media.
The name Guardians seemingly fits the team’s objective to find a name that encapsulates Cleveland’s ethos while also preserving the team’s history and goal of uniting the Cleveland sports community.
This is because closeby to the ballpark in downtown Cleveland, there are two large stone edifice landmarks – known as guardians – on the Hope Memorial Bridge just over the Cuyahoga River.