Illustrations of the Cleveland Guardians new home and away caps, uniforms and socks (image from spectrumnews1.com)
From Indians to Guardians
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
The 2021 Cleveland Indians might not make it to the postseason this year. With 68 games remaining the Indians are in second place in the Central Division, today nine games back from the Chicago White Sox. Starting 2022 they will be officially the Cleveland Guardians.
Maybe as Cleveland Guardians they will be able to do what they have not been able to do in 70 years in the American League win a World Series (currently the longest span among all teams in major league baseball without a World Series title). For many years (some of us) we remember when Cleveland was the city for jokes.
The old park next to Lake Erie was “The Mistake on the Lake”. Comedians used Cleveland all the time as the city they would relate their jokes to. Ironically one of the most famous and successful comedians, Bob Hope was the owner of the Cleveland Indians in the 1950’s.
As a founding member of the American League in 1901, the Cleveland Indians franchise has a rich history in baseball and the American sporting landscape. The Cleveland Indians have won six AL Pennant and two World Series, 1920 and most “recently” 1948.
Just a few months after Jackie Robinson made his major league debut, the Cleveland Indians under owner Bill Veeck signed Larry Doby, the first African-American player in the American League. Already the first AL team to sign an African-American player, Cleveland made history again when it named Frank Robinson as the majors’ first black manager in 1975.
A player-manager, Robinson wore this jersey on that historic Opening Day when he smashed a homer to help defeat the Yankees, 5-3. Like the late NY Yankees great announcer Mel Allen used to say “How About That!” These Cleveland Indians have been inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Jessie Burkett, Bob Feller, Elmer Flick, Stan Covaleski, Lou Boudreau, Early Wynn, Earl Averill, Bob Lemon, Joe Sewell, Addie Jones, Larry Doby, and Jim Thome.
In 1954 the Cleveland Indians won 111 games and the American League pennant, and were swept by the New York Giants (4-0) in that year’s World Series. More wins during a regular season: Chicago Cubs in 1906, 116 wins and the Seattle Mariners in 2001 also 116 wins.
Cleveland Indians current owner Paul Dolan: “We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” Dolan said in a statement. “Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
The name of Guardians is a Cleveland favorite. The Guardians of Traffic are large art-deco statues that adorn the Hope Memorial Bridge which connects Cleveland west side with the east side. The name Guardians has nothing to do with the very popular movie of 2017 Guardians of the Universe from the popular fictional DC Comic books and characters like: Nebula, Groot, Rocket and others.
Other superheroes of notable fame: Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Captain America, Thor, The Flash, The Hulk, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. If you are wondering about the Atlanta Braves, the Braves logo has remained the same since 1990.
Their imagery of Native American stereotypes was removed. They added a tomahawk, originally a Native American tool, which symbolizes throwing accuracy and force. Often these name changes in our professional sports teams are not originated by the people that are allegedly “offended.”
A good example was a poll conducted a few years ago about the Redskins name for the Washington football team. A poll reveled that nine in ten Native Americans were not offended by the Washington Redskins name. Nevertheless, today that team Washington Football Team will keep the name through 2021 and will unveil new identity in 2022.
With new names, comes new logos, new uniform styles and of course, more sales. As fans love all that stuff, perhaps the ownership of the Cleveland Guardians could donate all the money they are going to generate with these new marketing campaigns, to Native American organizations that are more concerned about their communities and improving their lives, than with the simple politically correct name change of a team.
Starting 2022 the Cleveland Indians will be the Cleveland Guardians. But, who knows, maybe 20 years from today when, billionaires, Branson, Bezos and Musk had colonized a few planets the trend will be space names and then the only team that would be “in vogue” will be the Houston Astros and they will probably “offend” somebody.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is vice president of the Major League Baseball Hispanic Heritage Hall of Fame Museum and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com