Friday, the Washington Redskins, under pressure from sponsors FedEx, Pepsi and Nike, announced they would be conducting an “internal review” into whether the franchise should change its name. It turns out Washington isn’t the only major franchise that is considering changing its nickname.
According to a report from Ken Rosenthal and Zack Meisel of The Athletic, the Cleveland Indians have “initiated plans” to consider the future of their team’s name. The Indians have had their name for 105 years.
The team also issued a statement on the matter.
"We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name," the team said in a statement.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 4, 2020
Cleveland’s franchise began as the Grand Rapids Rustlers and changed its name a few times before settling on the Indians after the 1914 season. According to cleveland.com, it might have had to do with a Native American player who played for a different Cleveland franchise a few decades earlier.
From 1903-14, the team was called the “Naps” after player-manager Napoleon Lajoie. But in 1915, Lajoie left to play in Philadelphia, and baseball writers made the decision on the new name.
Why Indians? Native American player Louis Sockalexis was a right fielder who played three seasons for the Cleveland Spiders (1897-1899). But more than a century later, there is still confusion and debate about whether the Indians name actually honored Sockalexis.
Two years ago, the franchise decided to ditch its Chief Wahoo mascot because it was deemed to be racist and offensive.
Update: The Indians have issued an official statement on the matter:
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 4, 2020
It’ll be interesting to see if more professional teams follow suit.