CLEVELAND — After more than 100 years, the Cleveland Indians have a new name -- the Guardians.
The club will finish the 2021 season as the Cleveland Indians and will look to launch the Cleveland Guardians at the conclusion of the season. The Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-1914) and Indians (1915-2021).
The announcement was made by the team on Twitter.
In a Friday news conference, Manager Terry Francona said he was proud of the organization.
"But I did want to make sure everybody understood that 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 of your own skin and think about other people that may have different color skin and what they're thinking. And we're trying to be extremely respectful and I'm really proud of our organization," Francona said.
Hear more from the team during Friday's news conference in the media player below:
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and Chairman Paul Dolan said in a statement. “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. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. 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.”
The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans. The organization 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.
The Cleveland Indians began the process of changing their name after years of protests calling the team name and former Chief Wahoo logo “derogatory,” “racist,” and “offensive."
Manager Terry Francona said in July 2020 that he believed the time had come for the team to change its name after more than 100 years.
“I think it’s time to move forward,” Francona said. “It’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate.”
Dolan said hearing firsthand the stories and experiences of Native American people, the team gained a deep understanding of how tribal communities feel about the team name and the detrimental effects it has on them.
The block C will go away and be replaced by the new "Diamond C" and will respect the tradition and heritage of Cleveland baseball, the team said.
"The new C stands tall – just as the Guardians of Traffic stand watch over our ballpark and city – and draws from the ascending diamond motifs at the top of each Guardian pylon," the team said in a news release.
The weight of the C has a tapered shape and is inspired by letterforms from the 1920 and 1948 World Series clubs.
The new logomark— The Guardian's Fastball— embodies what it means to be a Cleveland Guardian. It is inspired by the helmets and wings of the Guardian statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge. The split-finger design pays tribute to the team's pitching heritage.
The team colors will remain the same. The Guardians wordmark will have the familiar script style of the last 75 years. The script style mimics the trusses of the bridge's underside.
Slider will remain the team's mascot.
The club will continue to wear Cleveland on road uniforms, featuring the Bridge Pint alphabet derived from the Diamond C. The team will wear the Guardians script wordmark on the home uniforms.
What was involved when deciding a name change
The name change started in 2020 and included a multi-phased process to learn how the team name "Indians" impacted different communities and reflected on the team's values.
“Since the announcement to change the name in December, our team has been hard at work to ensure we pick a name that our community, fans, partners, employees and players will be proud to have represent Cleveland Baseball,” President of Business Operations Brian Barren said. “Through our research and discussions, we identified a few key themes that were most important to fans – connect to the city of Cleveland, honor our rich baseball history and unite our community – and we believe Guardians upholds all three of those pillars.”Through the ideation and research phase, we:
- Compiled 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders and front office personnel
- Surveyed 40,000 fans
- Had 4,000 fans sign up to participate in research via team name website
- Conducted 100+ hours of teammate brainstorming sessions
- Generated 1,198 name options which were narrowed down through 14 rounds of vetting
Why the Guardians are important to Cleveland
The choice of Guardians is, among the possible team names discussed, uniquely local -- a nod to the Guardians of Traffic on the Hope Memorial Bridge.
The nearly 100-year-old art-deco statues, officially named “The Guardians of Traffic,” stand 43 feet tall and line the sides of the bridge as visitors come in and out of the city.
The four double-sided statues carved out of sandstone represent technological advances made in transit, with each Guardian holding a different kind of vehicle in its massive hands.
The “Guardians of Traffic” helped set apart the bridge from others in the city, as well as the country.
The “Guardians of Traffic” replaced the LeBron James mural across from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse after the NBA superstar and Akron native announced he was going to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Team owner/Chief Executive Officer Paul Dolan pens letter to fans
In a letter to fans released Friday afternoon, Dolan acknowledged that the name change will be difficult for some and will take time to get used to.
"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," Dolan wrote.
The decision, Dolan said, wasn't made lightly. The team sought out tens of thousands of fans, community leaders and others to gather feedback on the name change. It was important, Dolan said, to honor the city and its baseball history.
Dolan wrote that the team's history won't be diminished by the new name.
"Indians will always be part of our history just as Cleveland has always been the most important part of our identity," he said. "In searching for a new brand, we sought a name that strongly reflects the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. Guardians embodies those defining attributes while drawing upon the iconic Guardians of Traffic proudly standing just outside Progressive Field on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we stand for each other while defending our Cleveland baseball family."
You can read Dolan's full statement below:
To our fans,
As a fifth generation Clevelander, I understand the historic impact and importance of the decision to change our team name. Like most of you, I grew up with the name Indians. My first Indians heroes were the great Rocky Colavito and Sonny Siebert. My bond to the Tribe was secured then and my fandom has only grown over the years. The successes we enjoyed and shared in the last three decades as Indians – the World Series appearances, Cy Young Award winners, longest win streak in MLB history, and so many other great accomplishments will always be unforgettable Indians memories for all of us.
Those memories do not diminish with a new name. Indians will always be part of our history just as Cleveland has always been the most important part of our identity.
In searching for a new brand, we sought a name that strongly reflects the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. Guardians embodies those defining attributes while drawing upon the iconic Guardians of Traffic proudly standing just outside Progressive Field on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we stand for each other while defending our Cleveland baseball family.
We acknowledge the name change will be difficult for many 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.
We didn't get to this name or our design elements lightly. Since the announcement to change the name in December, our team has been hard at work to ensure we pick a name that our fans and players will be proud to have represent Cleveland Baseball for the next 100-plus years.
Throughout this process, we surveyed more than 40,000 fans and conducted 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders and front office personnel. Through all our research and discussions, we identified a few key themes that were most important to fans – connect to the city of Cleveland, unite our community, and honor our rich baseball history. Therefore, while the name will be new, we will maintain elements of continuity to emphasize the ongoing connection our past will have with our future. Our colors and uniform mix are remaining the same, so our on-field look will feel very similar in 2022. If you’d like to learn more about the design marks, please visit our team name microsite.
So what's next? We will finish the 2021 season as the Cleveland Indians and will then look to launch as the Cleveland Guardians at the conclusion of the season. We are excited to usher in the next chapter of our franchise's long history in this city, and I am looking forward to the next generation of memories that friends, families and this city will all make together. I am sincerely thankful to everyone who has supported us throughout this process. Our fans and our community are the reason we exist, and as Guardians, we will continue to strive to unite and inspire this city through the power of team.
Owner/Chief Executive Officer
What the reaction to the change has been
The Terminal Tower raised a flag for Cleveland’s baseball team…with the logo from the mid-70s…upside-down. From AirTracker 5...
Many on social media were quick to point out that one of the logos that was released by the team invokes a connection to the franchise's fictional history.
There has been no shortage of opinions about the change on social media.
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