They will always be the Indians (Tribe) to me

By Hal McCoy

Cleveland Guardians. Roll it across your tongue and see what you think.

To me, it doesn’t taste good or feel good.

After more than a year of thinking it over, the Cleveland baseball team decided, under heavy pressure, to drop Indians as its nickname. And they came up with Guardians.

Personally, I prefer my submission — the Cleveland Indigos. That’s close to Indians. And because indigo is ink the team colors could be black and blue, apropos for the Cleveland franchise. It hasn’t won a World Series since 1948.

The team will retain its red, blue and white colors and the road uniforms will retain Cleveland on the front. And the home uniforms will be the same red script that said ‘Indians,’ but will now say ‘Guardians.’

The team dropped its highly offensive Chief Wahoo logo off its hats and uniforms in 2018. It was offensive because it was an ugly caricature with a mouth full of teeth and one feather that seemingly made fun of Native Americans rather than honor them.

That was understandable. But is Indians and Tribe offensive? It was to some Native Americans who often picketed outside of stadiums where Cleveland played, home and away.

And I understand that. And I understand the disgust toward Chief Wahoo. But to me, somebody who grew up a devout Cleveland fan who spent many hours in decrepit Cleveland Municipal Stadium, they will always be the Indians and the Tribe.

The team invited suggestions from fans for a new nickname and received more than 1,200 suggestions.

It was thought that Spiders or Rockers were the leaders in the clubhouse. The team was the Cleveland Spiders before 1900. The 1899 team’s record was 20-134, not a great image to celebrate. Rockers would have honored the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But there already was a Cleveland Rockers franchise — a Women’s National Basketball Association team from 1997 to 2003.

But Guardians it is. Why?

Well, across the street from Progressive Field, home to the Cleveland Indians, uh, Cleveland Guardians beginning in 2022, is the Hope Memorial Bridge, a structure that spans the Cuyahoga River that opened in 1932, exactly 100 years before the Indians become the Guardians.

At the entrance to the bridge are 43-foot high stone monuments called “Guardians of Traffic.”

Team owner Paul Dolan said he decided to move forward with a new nickname earlier this summer of the civil unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity,” Dolan said in a statement. “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.”

Even the seemingly innocuous nickname of Guardians might have some social detractor. Guardian or guardians appears at least 22 times in the Bible so the nickname might draw criticism from some religious groups.

So the Cleveland Guardians initials are CG, which in baseball terms means complete game, a relic of the past. That certainly in apropos for today’s game of six-inning pitchers.

The original announcement was made via the team’s Twitter account and featured move star Tom Hanks, who worked in Cleveland early in his career. And he was the main character in the movie A League of Their Own, where he famously said, “There is no crying in baseball.”

For a lot of Cleveland fans, there will be tears over the disappearance of the team’s iconic nickname. But it had to be done.

7 thoughts on “They will always be the Indians (Tribe) to me”

  1. Should have gone the other way and used Comanche or Apache or some other Indian name to show as a way to honor our heritage. The Seminoles are keeping their name.
    Oh well! It’s all about being politically correct.
    Thanks Hal ??? your the best.

  2. Well – the decision makers made it clear the plan was to represent Cleveland – as opposed to showing regard for the fan base who have supported them! If it wasn’t explained, very few (like me) would ever get the reference to the bridge statues… (fortunately my KJV Bible does not have guardian)

  3. The Reds became the Redlegs in the 1950’s. When things changed, they went back to Reds. Maybe, just maybe, the Indians will return to Cleveland someday.

  4. Disagree with you on Indians, Chief Wahoo, etc., being offensive, Hal. The cancel culture, along with all of the other political & PC BS has convinced even older guys like you that it is. What a stinkin shame. And who’s next? The Marlins because it offends fish? C’mon!

  5. Can’t wait to see the new logo and mascot. That outta be real good. Some imaginary dude in full body armor? No feathers allowed.

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