The Cleveland baseball team will be the Guardians, rather than the Indians, going forward, the team announced today. The team indicated late last year that it would retire the nickname “Indians” after the 2021 season, and we now know what will replace it.
The organization opted to change the name due to the problematic nature of the use of Indian and Indian-related nicknames. There’s been much debate on the topic, the claim that the name “Indians” was to honor former Cleveland player (and Native American) Lou Sockalexis, or whether that story was ret-conning. Joe Posnanski, who grew up an Indians fans, covered the topic very well and at length here, and I think rather than re-hash all of the arguments I’d just encourage you to read what Joe has to say on the subject.
There was support from the very online baseball folks to go back to the “Cleveland Spiders,” which was the name of the National League team in Cleveland in the 1800s. That never seemed likely, since Spiders is one of those nicknames that seems to be more appealing as a concept for fans to think about for a team in general than as the name to be used as the nickname for the team those fans actually root for.
The current incarnation of the club was originally the Grand Rapids Rustlers from 1894-99, then the Cleveland Lake Shores in 1900, the Cleveland Bluebirds in 1901, the Cleveland Broncos in 1902, the Cleveland Naps (for newly acquired star infielder Nap Lajoie) from 1903-14, and then the Indians since 1915.
Of all the former Cleveland team names, “Bluebirds” was the one I actually liked, though it didn’t ever seem to be seriously considered. I don’t have a strong opinion about Guardians one way or the other.
Here’s the logos that have been released with the new name: