Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team announced Friday that it will now be known as the Cleveland Guardians, inspired by the “Guardians of Traffic,” statues that are featured on the city’s Hope Memorial Bridge, which is just outside Progressive Field, where the team plays. (A logo featuring a winged baseball is meant to resemble the statues’ helmets.) The name and new looks will go into effect following the 2021 season.
The team announced the change in a video narrated by Oscar winner Tom Hanks that goes through historic moments from the team’s history in the league.
“We remember those moments as we move forward with change. You see, it has always been Cleveland that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in a voiceover.
The franchise took on the Indians name back in 1915 and it has often been the center of criticism over concerns that its team name and imagery promoted racial stereotypes against Native Americans. The team’s logo, known as Chief Wahoo, was considered particularly offensive and was eventually removed from team uniforms following the 2018 season.
In 2020, a decision was made to move on from the name inspired in part by the social-justice demonstrations of that year.
“Our role is to unite the community,” team owner Paul Dolan told MLB.com last year. “There is a credible number of people in this community who are upset by our name, are hurt by our name, and there is no reason for our franchise to bear a name that is divisive.”
The debut of the Guardians comes as many athletic leagues are taking a look at long-held team names, particularly ones that reference Native American culture and the effect that some of these names might have on the community at large. Washington, D.C.’s NFL team dropped its “Redskins” moniker in 2020 and is currently using the concise “Washington Football Team” in its place. Washington is expected to announce a new name in 2022.