“We acknowledge the name change will be difficult for some of us, and the transition will take time,” team owner Paul Dolan said. “It is our hope and belief this change will divert us from a divisive path and instead steer us towards a future where our fans, city, and region are all united as Cleveland Guardians.”
Manager Terry Francona, who played for the Indians and is the son of a former Cleveland player, said Friday, “We are trying to be the most respectful we can. And it’s not about us, it’s about other people.
“And you have to step outside your own skin and think about other people that may have different color skin and what they’re thinking. And we tried to be really respectful and I’m really proud of our organization.”
“Indians will always be part of our history, just as Cleveland has always been the most important part of our identity,” Dolan said. “In searching for a new brand, we sought a name that strongly reflects the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
The Cleveland club will retain its colors, according to the club.
A ‘welcome and necessary’ change
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary, called the decision a “welcome and necessary change.”
A prominent Native American activist also praised the club’s decision Friday.
“It is a major step towards righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples, and is one step towards justice,” Echo Hawk said in a statement.
Echo Hawk renewed her call for other sports teams with names evoking Native Americans to follow suit.
How Guardians was chosen
The team surveyed 40,000 fans, conducted 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders and staff, and considered more than 1,190 names before choosing Guardians, it said.
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge,” Dolan said in the team’s news release. “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.
“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.”
Fintech Zoom’s Terence Burlij, Nicquel Terry Ellis, Gregory Wallace and David Close contributed to this report.