After years of discussions and criticism from Native American groups, the Cleveland Indians will become the Cleveland Guardians starting with the 2022 season.
The Major League Baseball team that shares a division with the Kansas City Royals unveiled a video announcement and logo package on its social media accounts Friday morning, culminating a re-branding process that the franchise had been undergoing for most of the past year.
Cleveland’s colors — red, blue and white — will remain the same. It is the first name change in the MLB club’s franchise history that dates to 1915.
The Guardians nickname is a reference to the city’s Guardians of Traffic statues at each end of the Hope Memorial Bridge, located not far from the team’s home ballpark, Progressive Field.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said through a news release. “Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
Cleveland’s name change is the latest move by some professional sports teams to distance themselves from Native American mascots and imagery that a growing number of fans and interest groups find culturally offensive.
The Indians stopped wearing the Chief Wahoo logo — a smiling, red face caricature of a Native American man — in 2018, though the club currently still sells merchandise featuring the logo.
The NFL’s Washington Football Team, formerly known as the Redskins, is also aiming to unveil a full logo and name change in 2022.
Here in Kansas City, Chiefs executives have made some incremental changes in their policies and traditions but have no plans to change the team nickname.