Guardians renaming timeline: How years of criticism ultimately led to Cleveland’s baseball rebrand
Cleveland’s latest baseball chapter begins Thursday under a new name.
When the Guardians take to the field in Kansas City for Opening Day, it will be the first time the team has done so under its new identity since the announcement of the Cleveland Indians switch to the Cleveland Guardians last July.
The arrival of the new name comes perhaps 100 years later than expected. There was a belief when the Cleveland Naps became the Cleveland Indians that the name change would be temporary. However, it remained stuck for more than a century amid calls for it to be changed due to the term’s racial connotation.
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What led to the name change? The Sporting News delves into the history of Cleveland’s baseball team name and what led to the Guardians becoming MLB’s latest nickname.
Cleveland Guardians name change timeline
1865: Cleveland’s first amateur baseball team opens as the Forest Citys of Cleveland. They joined the National Amateur Association in 1868 and joined the National Association in 1872, but disbanded after the year.
1879: The Forest Citys returned briefly in 1879, this time to the National League, but changed their name three years later to the Cleveland Blues. The team merged with a St. Louis team into the Union Association in 1885, ending another short-lived Cleveland baseball club.
1887: Baseball returned to Cleveland in 1887, again as the Blues in the American Association. The Blues made the jump to the National League in 1889 and changed their name to the Spiders. During their 10-year run, the Spiders had a player named Louis Sockalexis, who was the first Native American to play professional baseball. The team was effectively broken up by its owner, who sent top talent to the St. Louis Browns in 1899 after purchasing the Missouri-based team. After the year, the Spiders were removed from the NL.
1900: The Grand Rapids Rippers were moved to Cleveland and became the Lake Shores. The same year, the Lake Shores league was renamed from the Western League to the American League.
1901: The American League was called one of the “major leagues” and the Cleveland baseball team, now called the Bluebirds or Blues, was one of its first teams. This is the true beginning of the Cleveland baseball organization that exists today.
1902: Cleveland elected to change its name from the Bluebirds to the Bronchos. In the Cleveland Bronchos’ only year, the team went 69-67. During the year, one of the Philadelphia Athletics’ star talents, Nap Lajoie, was traded to Cleveland and immediately became a fan favorite.
1903: The same year that the American League and National League signed the National Accord, leading to the first modern World Series, a poll was conducted by the Cleveland Press of readers to determine what the name of the team should be. Cleveland baseball since the Bronchos has never gained much traction. . The result was the Cleveland Naps, after Lajoie.
1915: Lajoie’s career with the Naps ended after the 1914 season, and it was time to choose a new team name. The baseball writers chose the Indians, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the name was “temporarily granted” so the team could determine “other nicknames which might be more appropriate”. Of course, that would turn out not to be the case. At the same time, the Cleveland baseball team that existed in the American Association was called the Spiders to move forward.
It had been claimed that the reason for the name “Indians” was because of Sockalexis. However, the claim has been disputed, given that his career only lasted 96 games over three years and he faced racism during his playing days, according to CleveScene.
1947: The Indians unveiled a new logo which had been designed by a local advertising agency for the team, according to Belt Magazine. It was a Native American cartoon that was eventually called “Chief Wahoo” after some editing. The logo will not be phased out of the team’s branding until after the 2018 season.
1968: It wasn’t until 1968 that any reference to Sockalexis was made in the team’s promotional materials, according to a 1999 article in The Washington Post. At this point, the Post reported that there had already been protests from Native Americans calling the name demeaning.
1971: Protests by Native Americans denouncing Chief Wahoo took place during a parade to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the city of Cleveland, the Portsmouth Times reported.
1973: It has become an annual tradition for Native Americans to demonstrate outside the Cleveland baseball stadium on opening day, according to a 2012 Indian Country Today Media Network article. Sundance, the manager of Cleveland AIM, said in the article that in 1972, Cleveland AIM filed a lawsuit against the team “for libel and libel”, but it was unsuccessful.
Robert Roche, a former director of Cleveland AIM, told the Indian Country Media Network that sometimes people threw cans at protesters and spat at women and children. He said there was one instance where one of the protesters was assaulted.
1995: A group called the 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance Committee was founded in 1991 and, according to an article by Tiffany Taylor and Michelle Jacobs, they attempted to stop the use of Chief Wahoo in Cleveland’s new baseball stadium. . But when Jacobs Field opened in 1995, Chief Wahoo still featured prominently.
When the Atlanta Braves played in Cleveland in that year’s World Series, protests emerged in both cities over the names and racial caricatures used by the teams.
1997 : The MLB All-Star Game was to be held in Cleveland, and there were protests. Although not among the protesters, Michael Sockalexis, a descendant of Louis Sockalexis, was named among those opposing the use of Chief Wahoo, according to a report by the Albany Herald.
1999: Larry Dolan bought the Cleveland baseball team from Richard Jacobs. According to Cleveland.com, he said at a meeting with Oberlin College students in December 2000 that he “strongly rejects” Chief Wahoo being racist and said the protests did not represent Native Americans or Native Americans. baseball fans.
“Something offensive isn’t necessarily racist,” Dolan said, according to Cleveland.com. “It’s really that gap that maybe exists on both sides, whether it’s offensive is really not a debate. Whether it’s racist is really the issue for us. If it was the latter, I don’t think that we would be here because there would be It’s not a symbol. We wouldn’t be promoting a racist symbol.”
2016: At the start of the 2016 season, Chairman and CEO Paul Dolan told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Chief Wahoo would begin to be a secondary logo and would no longer be used as a primary feature on uniforms and hats. Instead, the team used the “C” block as their primary logo.
2019: MLB announced that Cleveland would no longer have Chief Wahoo on its uniforms heading into the 2019 season. Dolan said in the statement that he was fine with the decision to remove the logo.
July 3, 2020: Cleveland announced that it would consider changing its name. The announcement came amid protests against racial injustice across the country following the death of George Floyd.
July 24, 2020: The team made the decision to wear their road uniforms—which simply read “Cleveland” on the front instead of “Indians”—at home.
December 13, 2020: The New York Times reported that the team would drop the name “Indians” and begin the process of finding a new name. The process then involved surveying more than 40,000 fans and creating a list of nearly 1,200 different names, according to the team’s website.
July 23, 2021: The team announced that it would be called the Guardians beginning in the 2022 season. The name comes from the statues on the city’s Hope Memorial Bridge, called the Traffic Guardians.
October 3, 2021: Cleveland beat Texas 6-0 to finish the season with an 80-82 record. The game marked the last time the team was known as the Indians. Their last home game was on September 27.