Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona said Sunday that it’s “time to move forward” on a new name … [+]
For the last 105 years Cleveland’s professional baseball team was known as the Indians, but that name is now clearly on the clock. On Friday the organization issued a release stating that it has begun internal and external discussions “to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”
On Sunday Manager Terry Francona all but said it’s time for a change.
“I’ve been thinking about this since before we put out the statement,” Francona said to reporters on a Zoom call. “I know in the past, when I’ve been asked about our name or Chief Wahoo,” Francona said, “I would usually answer that I know we’re never trying to be disrespectful. I still feel that way, but I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today.”
The Indians removed the controversial Chief Wahoo logo from their uniforms last year. The team name will apparently be the next to go.
The release issued by the organization noted that, “The recent social unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.”
To that end, it’s clear that the organization is openly promoting the idea of changing the name of the team. Having Francona speak so frankly about it on Sunday was a strong suggestion that the franchise is headed in that direction.
“I think it’s time to move forward,” Francona said. “Even at my age, you don’t want to be too old to learn or to realize that maybe I’ve been ignorant of some things, to be ashamed of it, and to try to be better.”
Cleveland’s team has been called the Indians since 1915. The franchise was known as the Blues when it came into the American League as a charter member in 1901. In 1902 the name was changed to the Bronchos, and with the arrival of future Hall of Famer Napoleon Lajoie in 1903, the name was changed to the Naps, which remained the name through the 1914 season.
When Lajoie was sold to the Philadelphia A’s after the 1914 season the team adopted the name “Indians,” which has remained its name to this day.
Francona said he, club president Chris Antonetti, and general manager Mike Chernoff frequently talked about the appropriateness of the team’s name many times over the last few years. Now the discussion is widening into public discussion, leading to speculation that that a name change at this point is not so much a question of “if” but rather “when?”
“I’m glad that we’re going to be open to listening because the most important thing right now is being willing to listen, not necessarily just talk,” Francona said.
With speculation that the team is on its way to a re-branding with a new name, logo, perhaps even colors, the expected cottage industry of suggestions is not just open for business in Cleveland, but it’s working overtime, through ongoing discussion by fans.
Some feel that the best option would be something relating to a Cleveland landmark, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Rocks” and “Rockers” have both been prominently mentioned. So have a return to the “Naps,” “Blues,” or “Bronchos.”
The best historical option, however, might be the Spiders, which was the name of the city’s National League team from 1890 to 1899. Spiders offers intriguing logo possibilities, including uniqueness – no other current major league team is named after an arachnid – as well as a chance to re-christen the team’s home ballpark, which, when it opened was dubbed “The Jake.” How about “The Web”?
It’s open season for suggestions on re-naming Cleveland’s professional baseball team.
Cleveland’s professional baseball team.