Report: Cleveland MLB Team Plans to Change Team Nickname; New Name TBD

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2020

A pile of batting practice balls are seen as Cleveland Indians players work out during batting practice for Friday's Game 3 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

First, the Washington Football Team changed its racist nickname in the NFL.

Now, Major League Baseball's team in Cleveland is reportedly following suit.

According to David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, the American League Central team will change its nickname "following years of protests from fans and Native American groups."

The report said Cleveland could announce its overall plans this week.

One source said Cleveland could keep the name on its uniforms for the 2021 season as it moves toward a new name for the 2022 campaign.

The team already moved away from the cartoon mascot Chief Wahoo and toward a block "C" logo on its hats and jerseys.

"Native American groups usually appear at Cleveland's home opener each spring, sometimes in the face of withering verbal abuse from fans as they enter the stadium," Waldstein and Schmidt wrote. "In recent years, the team has worked with the protesters and police to help ensure the safety of demonstrators and their right to free and peaceful expression."

The team released a statement in July explaining it was "committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name":

Cleveland Indians @Indians


According to Ken Rosenthal and Zack Meisel of The Athletic, such a statement was "a clear indication" Cleveland was "prepared to consider changing the team name more seriously than" it had before.

The Washington Football Team decided to change its nickname following a review and pressure from outside sources. FedEx was among those companies that applied that pressure, which was all the more notable because it sponsors the team's stadium.

As fans have seen on the football side of things, it could take some time to settle on a new name with licensing and other factors that slow the process. The baseball team has gone by its current nickname since 1915.


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