CLEVELAND — A new era of big-league baseball gets underway in Cleveland as the Guardians make their debut in front of their home fans at Progressive Field on Friday night.
Fans, both in support and opposition, have been vocal about their position on the name change.
“Change is hard, but I think ultimately it’s a good thing,” said Lisa Thomas of Westlake.
Many Cleveland baseball fans have distinct memories attached to the great teams of the 90s and the dawn of the Golden Age with the opening of then Jacob’s Field.
“It’s a lot to get used to because I’m so used to the old name and we have the same gear that we’ve had,” said Jason Scott, of Cleveland. “But every time I go past the bridge, I see a guardian, I see why they did it.”
The team set out to connect with the city of Cleveland while honoring the club’s rich baseball history and unite the community with the name change.
“One of the things I like about Cleveland so much is the retro feel, and the Guardians are reflective of that retro feel which is such a wonderful part of Cleveland,” said John Thomas, of Westlake.
Meanwhile, work has been underway for months as team shop and merchandise employees have been stocking the shelves of the team shop with a fresh look.
“We had to get all new products for everything, so we had to work with every other department to get the official logos and to understand the vision that we wanted to put on our merchandise,” said Brian Tillinger, the manager of the team shop. “Then we had to work with all our vendors to make sure that they could produce what we needed on time and with different types of silhouettes to give a big option for the fans.
The team landed on Guardians in honor of the Guardians of Transportation on the Hope Memorial Bridge that connects Lorain and Carnegie avenues. The Guardian is meant to symbolize the spirit of progress, lining up with dropping a name that has been deemed offensive and moving forward together.
“Those iconic sculptures on the bridge are just wonderful and that just supports what Cleveland is about,” Thomas said.
Gates to Progressive Field open at 5:30 p.m. with the first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. Tom Hanks, who narrated the team’s montage when they announced the name change will be on hand to throw out a ceremonial first pitch to Larry Doby Jr.
The matchup with San Francisco also marks the first time Cleveland has hosted a National League team in their home opener.
RELATED: New name, new gear, new food: What changes to expect in the Guardians' 2022 season
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