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Cleveland Changes Name From Indians to Guardians; To Take Effect After 2021 MLB SeasonCLEVELAND, OHIO – JULY 23: Cleveland Indians president of business operations Brian Barren talks to members of the media during a press conference announcing the name change from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on July 23, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo : Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Here come the new guardians of the MLB. Cleveland announced on Friday morning that they are changing their team name from Indians to Guardians, with the move taking effect after the 2021 season.

The ballclub revealed the name change with the help of Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, who narrated the video posted on Twitter. Cleveland decided after months of discussions within the franchise to rid themselves of a team name that many considered was racist.

Guardians replace controversial Indians team name

Guardians will be Cleveland’s fifth name in its rich professional baseball history, joining the Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021). Though the name change caught many by surprise on Friday, the move was expected as Cleveland had already announced its intention to replace the team name in December 2020.

This is the second major move by the Cleveland franchise in the last three years regarding its branding and representation. Back in 2018, the Indians decided to stop wearing the controversial Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. Native American groups have long protested Cleveland’s use of the smiling, red-faced caricature as its logo.

In a news conference, team owner Paul Dolan said that the landmark stone edifices that flanked both ends of the Hope Memorial Bridge also referred to as traffic guardians, inspired Cleveland’s new team name. Also helping its cause was that younger fans favored the Guardians name with a local news outfit branding the said name as a “trendy” pick.

Dolan admitted that last year’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis fast-tracked his decision to change the Indians’ name that they have used for the past 106 years. Even though he acknowledged that some people would disagree with his decision, Dolan knows that Cleveland is “headed in the right direction” with the change. He also added that “the selection of the name solidifies that feeling because of the values that the name represents.”

Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director and founder of IllumiNative, a group dedicated to fighting misrepresentations and injustices to Native Americans, praised Cleveland’s move, saying, “It is a major step toward righting the wrongs committed against Native peoples.”

Even though Cleveland will be using a different name from the 2022 season onwards, its colors will remain the same. On the other hand, their new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the Hope Memorial Bridge, where the “Guardians of Traffic” sculptures are located.

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Washington’s turn next to replace racist team name

With Cleveland making the change, attention now shifts to another professional sports franchise that is also in the midst of replacing its “racist” nickname. Washington ditched its Redskins name last season in the National Football League, going with the generic Football Team instead.

Team president Jason Wright told the Washington Post that the team would unveil its new name and logo early next year. Washington is still sorting through potential nicknames, with a whopping 1,200 options reportedly being considered.