Cleveland Indians Change Name to Guardians, With Help From Tom Hanks

Cleveland Guardians
Cleveland Guardians/Twitter

Baseball’s longstanding Cleveland Indians franchise announced Friday it would drop the name by which it has been known for decades and adopt the new moniker, Guardians, making it the latest big-league sports team to change a title that is seen as denigrating to a certain part of the population.

The team announced its decision in a short video narrated by actor Tom Hanks that was distributed via social media.

The move has been months in the making. Cleveland team officials announced late last year that they planned to change the name after conducting research and talking to fans, civic leaders and Native American groups. Since 1915, the Cleveland team has been known as the Indians, a title many people have criticized as being racist.  “We have decided to move forward with changing the current team name and determining a new, non-Native American based name for the franchise,” the club said in December.

The change is set to become official after the 2021 season.

Several top athletic teams have found themselves grappling with their names in an era when more Americans are questioning the ways in which they treat one another, a national reckoning that has been spurred by the killing last year of George Floyd while in the custody of police in Minneapolis. In July of last year, the owners of the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise announced that team would be known as Washington Football Team after many years of being called the Washington Redskins.

“‘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,” team owner Paul Dolan said in a prepared statement. “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 Guardians have over the course of their history also been known as the Blues, the Broncos and the Naps.