Known as the Indians since 1915, the Cleveland baseball team officially has its new name.
The team announced Friday morning that it will be changing its name from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians through a video posted to its Twitter account, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist. Washington’s NFL franchise is going through a similar transformation, though it has opted to temporarily play as the Washington Football Team after ditching the Redskins name. The name for Cleveland will go into effect after the 2021 season.
“You see there’s always been Cleveland,” read actor Tom Hanks as he narrated the announcement video. “That’s the best part of our name, and now it’s time to unite as one family, one community to build the next era for this team in this city, to keep watch, and guard what makes this game the greatest. To come together and welcome all who want to join us. We are loyal and proud and resilient. We protect what we’ve earned and always defended. Together we stand with all who understand what it means to be born, and built from ‘The Land’, because this is the city we love and the game we believe in, and together we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Cleveland first announced last summer that it would begin having conversations with local community members and Native American groups about the possibility of a name change. The organization announced in December that it was beginning a search for a new nickname. More than 4,000 fans signed up to be part of the conversation, and over 40,000 fans were surveyed, including 140 hours of interviews with fans, staff and community members. The organization determined that the name should connect to the city of Cleveland, preserve the team’s rich baseball history and unite the community.
"As a fifth-generation Clevelander, I understand the historic impact and importance to change our team name," said team owner Paul Dolan. "Like most of you, I grew up with the name Indians. My first Indians heroes were the great Ricky 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, the Cy Young Award winners, longest win streak in MLB history, and so many other great accomplishments will always be unforgettable Indians memories for 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."
The Cleveland Guardians wordmark for the 2022 MLB season.
Dolan said last summer's social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the club's name. In 2018, the Indians stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that has drawn protests from Native American groups for decades.
The name change has sparked a lively debate among the city's passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which was used by a now-defunct Cleveland team, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.
"In searching for a new brand, we sought a name that strongly reflects the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders, "said Dolan "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."
The Cleveland Guardians primary logo for the 2022 MLB season.
As mentioned before, the Guardians moniker and branding draws inspiration from the Guardians of Traffic on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field. The new Diamond C is an evolution of the team's classic Block C and respects the tradition and heritage of Cleveland baseball all while drawing inspiration from the Guardians of Traffic and paying homage to the letterforms from the 1920 and 1948 World Series champions.
The Fastball logo embodies what it means to be a Cleveland Guardian in its strong, yet simple design. It is inspired by both the helmets and wings of Hope Memorial Bridge’s Guardians statues that keep watch over the city. The G purposefully wraps around and protects the baseball — guarding everything that makes this game great. It is also a nod to the split-finger fastball – a tribute to Cleveland's strong pitching heritage.
Finally, the Bridge Print alphabet is derived from the Diamond C and will be used as a supporting element on Cleveland's home and away jerseys. The new font represents the unique characteristics of Cleveland with angular letters and numbers that mimic the architecture of the Hope Memorial Bridge and the Guardian of Traffic. They will maintain the red, white and navy color scheme that has been part of our organization for more than 80 years to honor our rich baseball heritage.
The Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14) and Indians (1915-2021).
"This is a historic moment for our franchise, and we are excited for our players and staff to debut our new team name and look in 2022," president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said in a statement. "We look forward to our team proudly representing the city of Cleveland as the Guardians."