After mounting pressure, Cleveland’s baseball team will drop the “Indians” moniker. While new team branding is prepared, Cleveland will continue to play as the Indians in 2021, according to AP’s Tom Withers. The team will have played under the “Indians” name for 106 years.
The team’s twitter account released a statement via Twitter addressing the decision. The release all but states that the “Tribe” will not be an option, as Cleveland is committed to removing Native American references and imagery from their moniker.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) December 14, 2020
Thus, it is time to speculate on what exactly the team’s new nickname will be based on the history and culture of the city. Here are four potential nicknames for Cleveland’s baseball team.
The Cleveland Spiders were a National League team from 1889 to 1899 (after two years in the defunct American Association). The franchise ended after the team’s owner bought St. Louis’ baseball franchise and sent Cleveland’s best players out of town. In fact, the Spiders’ last season holds the MLB record for worst win-loss ratio at 20-134.
Cy Young, after whom the yearly pitching achievement award is named, made his MLB debut with the Spiders in 1890, remaining on the team until 1898. Their highpoint as a franchise was a Temple Cup win, which was given to the winner of a seven-game playoff series between the first and second place National League teams.
The team’s colors consisted of black, gray and white although it is unclear whether the Indian’s rebranding would include color changes. It is important to know that this team folded, meaning their records would not follow the Indians. But, given the history of the name and the chance to redeem the Cleveland Spiders after they folded following the worst season in MLB history, this nickname seems to be the frontrunner.
Rocks/Rockers/other music-related names
Cleveland is very famously home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The city is tied to rock and roll in myriad ways, including being home to a D.J. named Alan Freed, who not only organized the first rock concert, but may have also coined the term itself on WJW airwaves.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is inseparable from the city of Cleveland, which may result in it being reflected in the baseball team’s new name. Rockers makes sense, Guitars, Notes, etc. If it is music-related, it is probably being discussed in the Cleveland’s front office.
Naming the team the “Cleveland Rocks” takes it one level deeper, however.
“Cleveland Rocks” is a song originally performed by Ian Hunter, who wrote it as a love letter to the city. The most well known version, perhaps, is a cover sung by The Presidents of the United States of America. This cover served as the theme song to “The Drew Carey Show,” which took place in Cleveland.
The song is frequently played after Cavaliers and Indians wins. It never became any sort of official song for the Browns, but fans can be heard chanting “Cleveland rocks” from time to time. Considering it is a celebration of the city and a validation that it is as “cool,” as Los Angeles and New York (according to Hunter himself, via his website), it may be a unifying new nickname to replace such a divisive one.
Yes, Ohio State’s athletic teams already wear this name, but there are plenty of overlapping team names in American sports. It may make this choice less likely, but it has meaning to both the state and baseball itself, and should not be seen as just a copycat moniker.
The Buckeye is instantly recognizable as a symbol representing Ohio. It is the state tree, and Ohio’s official nickname. It also happens to be the name of a Negro League team based in Cleveland from 1943-1948 (then again for two months in 1950).
The Cleveland Buckeyes were members of the Negro American League. They won two NAL titles (1945, 1947), winning the Negro World Series in 1945. Renaming the team in honor of them would be a pointed step in the opposite direction of the mascot they are leaving behind.
Over the Cuyahoga River is 88-year-old Hope Memorial Bridge, connecting Lorain and Carnegie Avenues. At either end of the bridge sit huge statues of god or angel-like figures holding vehicles. These pillars have been named the “Guardians of Traffic,” and were meant to symbolize progress in transportation.
Officially inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 following an apparent plot by an engineer to have them removed, the Hope Memorial Bridge actually ends near Progressive Field, where Cleveland’s baseball team plays. The Guardians of Traffic have clearly made a home in the hearts of Cleveland residents, being that the government has gone so far as to protect them.
They may not be the most well-known landmark, but they are unmistakably Cleveland through and through. Naming the team after these literal works of art is an elegant solution.
Featured Image courtesy of Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer
“From Our Haus to Yours“