Report: Cleveland Indians Changing Name After 105 Years
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians are changing their name after 105 years.
Citing three people familiar with the decision, The New York Times reported Sunday night that the team is moving away from a name considered racist for decades. The Indians have been internally discussing a potential name change for months.
A team spokesman told The Associated Press the franchise has no immediate comment on the report.
The Times said the team could make a formal announcement later this week. It’s not known when the name change will take affect or if the team has settled on a new moniker.
EXCLUSIVE: For the past 105 years, the team was called the Indians. That will be no more as Cleveland has decided to change its name. Announcement from team could come as early as this week. w/@DavidWaldstein https://t.co/Nnw2nAoKcJ
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) December 14, 2020
Cleveland’s move away from Indians follows a similar decision earlier this year by the NFL’s Washington Football Team, which was previously known as the Redskins.
For years, Native American groups and others have protested against Cleveland’s use of Indians as its name as well as other imagery used by the American League charter franchise founded in 1901. Last year, the team removed the contentious Chief Wahoo logo from its caps and jerseys, but the smiling, cartoonish mascot has remained popular and merchandise is still sold bearing its image.
The Indians have dealt with a backlash from fans upset over Chief Wahoo’s removal and the club is certain to hear more with the decision to change its name.
Breaking: The Cleveland Indians will be dropping their nickname, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan, confirming a report by The New York Times. pic.twitter.com/PafAhvgDN7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 14, 2020
In July, just hours after Washington’s plans became known after being pressured by several sponsors, including FedEx which holds naming rights to the football’s team’s stadium, Cleveland owner Paul Dolan released a statement saying the team would review “the best path forward with our team name.”
In the months since, the team has consulted players, front office members, coaching staff, community leaders, share holders and Native American groups.
Sources confirm the @nytmike and @DavidWaldstein report that the Cleveland Indians will be dropping their nickname. While it's unclear what they will replace it with, the Indians — who have been called that for more than a century and nearly 17,000 games — will be no more.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 14, 2020
A few days after Dolan’s statement, Indians manager Terry Francona said it was time to “move forward” with the name change.
“I’ve been thinking about it and been thinking about it before we put out that statement,” said Francona, who has been with the club since 2013. “I know in the past, when I’ve been asked about, whether it’s our name or the Chief Wahoo, I think I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful.
“And I still feel that way. But I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today. I think it’s time to move forward. It’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate.”