It was only a matter of time. Once word got out that Cleveland Indians officials had settled on a new name for the Major League Baseball franchise — but that they weren’tquite ready to reveal the choice — it wasn’t going to stay secret for long.
Less than a day, as it turned out.
Tribe officials tweeted the official announcement, accompanied by a video and voiceover by actor and noted Indians fan Tom Hanks, who used to spend summer nights in the 1970s watching the Tribe at old Municipal Stadium.
So Guardians it is, once the 2021 season comes to a end. In part, it’s an homage to the statues on the nearby Hope Memorial Bridge, which connects Cleveland’s East and West Sides.
Early reaction to “Guardians” was mixed Friday, both in Ashtabula County and across northeastern Ohio. Some fans vowed not to buy Guardians gear or attend games because club owner Paul Dolan allegedly “caved” to political correctness in agreeing to first dump Chief Wahoo and then the Indians nickname.
A question for those fans: Did you begin rooting for the team because they were called the Indians?
Our guess is most fans began following the team because it represented Cleveland, and they enjoyed baseball.
Guardians will take some getting used to, but the color scheme and uniforms won’t change much. And — let’s hope — that some of the team’s better players will be in those very similar uniforms next spring.
The decision to rename and rebrand the franchise was first made public late last year. As with the retirement of Chief Wahoo in 2019, the first reaction — at least here — was somewhat negative. But the vast majority of Cleveland baseball fans eventually got used to not seeing Chief Wahoo’s grinning visage on caps and uniforms or arouind the ballpark. We think we’ll get used to Guardians over time, too.
Some of us still have caps and shirts with the Chief on them and such merchandise is still sold at the Indans’ team shop at Progressive Field. A quick check of Amazon.com shows plenty of sellers still offering Chief Wahoo goods.
The point is that the team’s long history won’t be wiped clean by changing the mascot or the name.
Cleveland will always be the first AL team with a Black player, Larry Doby, and the first MLB team to hire a Black manager, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. Bob Feller will always be known as one of the game’s greatest pitching talents.
We understand the sadness some have about these changes and the anger others feel about political correctness ruling the day when — they argue — most Cleveland fans had no pejorative thoughts about Native Americans. They seem to view Chief Wahoo and the Indians as pleasant reminders of summer nights spent on the lakefront or at Jacobs Field
But we also understand others saw the logo and nickname differently.
But change is a huge part of baseball. The names on the backs of the jerseys have always changed. Now it’s the name on the front.
We’ll get used to it. Just be glad the Guardians won’t be the Spiders, Rocks or Rockers.