By: Matthew Miller-Search
Cleveland baseball fans are given a new name for their beloved team: The Guardians — along with a new logo to match.
The Cleveland Blues. Bronchos. Naps. All these names have one thing in common – they are from a by gone era. Soon to be joining them as of Opening Day 2022 is the Indians. After seven months and cutting a list that started with over 1,200 names down to one, the Guardians was chosen. For non-Clevelanders this is probably an eyebrow raiser. The Guardians was chosen because it symbolizes the Guardians of Traffic statue on the Hope Memorial Bridge says the Cleveland MLB website, which is located just 1,000 feet from the home of the Indians Progressive Field.
A new logo has been chosen along with the new name. Anne Beekman, associate professor of Graphic Design at UF, says the name ‘Guardians’ is “certainly a regional name and not something that will lend itself to national recognition.”
“In Cleveland, to the locals, the name will make sense,” she added. Beekman is disappointed the logo doesn’t include the face of the statues from the bridge itself.
The Hope Memorial Bridge opened in 1932 and has been serving Cleveland citizens since, says Case Western Reserve University. The guardians of the bridge, also called pylons, hold transportation vehicles in their hands, signifying their guardianship of transportation across the city.
Cleveland.com opened a poll for their readers with a single question: Cleveland’s MLB team recently announced they intend to drop the “Indians” nickname after the upcoming season. What are your thoughts on the announcement? Is this a change for better or for worse?
55% of fans were not pleased with the announcement of the name change. 33% were in favor, and 11% were indifferent, says the news site.
WKYC Studios in Cleveland held a poll for fans of the baseball team with six choices all relating to Cleveland history and culture: Buckeyes, Guardians, Spiders, Rocks, Cleveland Baseball Club, and Municipals. The results of the poll showed that fans prefer the name ‘Spiders,’ which finished first place at 27.7% — Guardians falling behind in third place with 19.8%.
Many are asking why the logo of Chief Wahoo needed to be changed in the first place. Is it really culturally offensive or is everyone just overly sensitized these days? There are strong opinions on both sides of that argument.
The caricature of a Native American has been the logo of the Cleveland major league baseball team since 1947. Walter Goldbach, a 17-year-old senior in high school in 1946 and Medina, OH native, drew the original logo with orange skin, a white-tipped red feather and a ponytail fixed to the head of the caricature. In 1951, the logo was redesigned to red skinned look that Americans know today in 1951.
“I find those types of sports names and logos extremely offensive,” says Beekman. Especially the caricature of Chief Wahoo with the worst of his features accentuated. You don’t have to be Native American to be offended by that.”
Marketing the new logo and name will also be a challenge for the team. Eric Stoller, assistant professor of teaching in Sports Management says “this gives Cleveland the opportunity to grow their brand now because it is getting a lot of attention and can be turned into a positive.” Stoller also says that there will surely be testing to see what version of the logo sells merchandise best.
“If something doesn’t work, they will move on to the next version,” the professor said. Overall, Stoller feels the choice of Guardian is “a good choice and has a lot of opportunities for creativity.”
After several decades with the recognizable logo and name – fans and rivals alike will need to get used to the change. The Guardians next season will begin in 2022, officially debuting the new name and logo on the diamond March 31.