PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio — On Friday, Cleveland's Major League Baseball team announced it will be changing its name from the long-contested Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians after the 2021 season. On Saturday, Portage County Sheriff Bruce D. Zuchowski issued a statement that he said he "felt compelled" to make in response to Friday's baseball news.
Zuchowski, using the Portage County Sheriff's Office's official letterhead and Facebook account, expressed his discontent with the team changing the name, stating that he was speaking on behalf of the "silent majority."
"For the past few days, the release has been weighing heavy on my mind with disappointment and hopelessness. I thought back to the roots of baseball - an American family tradition. Sometimes referred to as America's National Pastime, the game of baseball has played an active role in our nation for centuries," Zuchowski said. "When I was a child, I remember observing my grandfathers watching the Indians game on TV or listening on their AM radios. They both loved the Indians back in the day. Today, I know they are both turning over in their grave with anguish and disgust toward the recent actions."
The sheriff went on to lay claim that his wife is a Native American descendant and said "she and her relatives never viewed the Cleveland Indians as a biased or prejudiced team but rather their hometown baseball franchise."
"This is once again another attempt of trying to erase our history due to the outcry of the few that affects the many," the sheriff wrote.
But, outraged as he was, Zuchowski also said he has been boycotting professional sports for the past three years and that he "couldn't tell you" the starting lineup for the Tribe.
Zuchowski, who doesn't watch the team he's upset is changing their name, said that his particular outrage is more about the "principle of the decision-making process."
"These unfortunate decisions are being made while continuously impacting individuals and industries across the nation. Both lawmakers and decision-makers need to begin to think about the majority of their constituents before caving to the impulsive demands being made by a small group of the public," Zuchowski said.
While Zuchowski described the Tribe's announcement of a name change as "caving to the impulsive demands," the team began the process of changing their name last year after years of protests calling the team name and former Chief Wahoo logo “derogatory,” “racist,” and “offensive."
The organization then spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated.
"We acknowledge the name change will be difficult for some of us and the transition will take time. 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," said team owner Paul Dolan at a press conference regarding the name change.
The Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-1914) and Indians (1915-2021).
You can read Zuchowski's full statement below:
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