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Cleveland Indians change name to Guardians

2021-07-24 HKT 11:10
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  • Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan announces the team's name change. Photo: AP
    Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan announces the team's name change. Photo: AP
Cleveland's Major League Baseball team announced on Friday it is renaming itself the Guardians, dropping the more than century-old moniker of the Indians, which Native Americans and other critics saw as racist.

The team made the announcement that it would dump the name it has used since 1915 in a video narrated by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks.

It is the latest in a series of professional or university sports teams in the United States to yield to public pressure over offensive names and logos – ditching ones such as Redskins, Savages or Redmen – amid a national reckoning about racism and discrimination.

"It has always been Cleveland that is the best part of our name," Hanks said in the video, which describes the Ohio city as proud of its sports heritage and eager to protect it.

"And now it's time to unite as one family, one community – to build the next era for this team and this city," he said.

"This is the city we love. And the game we believe in. And together we are all Cleveland Guardians," he added, unveiling the new team logo, with music in the background from the Black Keys, a rock band formed in nearby Akron.

The change will take effect after the 2021 season ends.

The team first announced last summer that it would talk to community members and Native American groups about the possibility of a name change. In December, it formally said it would drop "Indians" and started a search for a new nickname.

As part of this process, more than 40,000 fans were surveyed.

The new name Guardians reflects a bit of local lore – so-called Guardians of Traffic carved into pylons at either end of a bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

The team's colors will remain the same, and the new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.

Native American groups welcomed the name change.

"With today's announcement, the Cleveland baseball team has taken another important step forward in healing the harms its former mascot long caused Native people, in particular Native youth," said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians.

In 2018, the Indians stopped using the controversial Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature. (AFP)