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The Cleveland Indians are prepared to consider a name change, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported and the team confirmed in a statement Friday.
The news came just hours after Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder announced a thorough review of the team’s name was underway after fans and sponsors alike called for change. Cleveland’s baseball team has not received that level of pushback over its name, but may have felt some pressure starting to mount given the attention Washington’s name was garnering.
The Indians did receive backlash over the Chief Wahoo logo — a Native American caricature that many felt was racist — that was featured prominently on their uniforms and branding for several decades. That logo was removed from the team’s branding in 2019.
The team’s statement indicates they were already having internal discussions about a possible name change taking place, perhaps stemming from the Chief Wahoo fallout. The team also acknowledges that recent unrest in the community and the country “underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice.”
Here is the full statement:
Cleveland’s American League franchise took the Indians name in 1915 after going through several early name changes. The team was originally called the Bluebirds back in 1901, before changing to the Broncos and Naps.
Cleveland also had a short-lived (1889-1899) National League team named the Spiders. Based on the social media response to Cleveland’s announcement, it’s clear baseball fans want to see that name revived. The Cleveland Spiders were quickly among Twitter’s top trends.
While it’s too early to speculate where these talks will go or what options the team might consider for this potential rebrand, the fact that it’s being acknowledged is significant. A momentous shift in the sports landscape appears to be in progress, and it’s long overdue.
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