Cleveland baseball team will drop ‘Indians’ nickname

Jace Evans
 
| USA TODAY

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Redskins not the only team with racially insensitive nickname

SportsPulse: While Washington’s NFL team is finally putting to bed their racially insensitive nickname. Remember there are other major sports teams whose nickname origins are linked to America’s culturally-insensitive past.

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be dropping the “Indians” nickname.

Plans to drop the name will be announced this week, a person with knowledge of the decision told USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the plans because of the forthcoming announcement.

A new team name will not be immediately announced. 

The New York Times was the first to report the news Sunday night. 

The timetable for when a new name will be selected is not entirely clear. Per the Times’ reporting, the “Indians” name may remain in place for the upcoming 2021 MLB season. 

Cleveland assumed the “Indians” nickname in 1915. Prior names of the American League franchise include the Naps, Bronchos and Blues. 

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. President Trump weighed in with some of the first backlash from his Twitter account on Sunday night:

“Oh no! What is going on? This is not good news, even for “Indians”. Cancel culture at work!” Trump tweeted.

In July, Cleveland said it was “committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.” This came 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.

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A few days after Cleveland’s July statement, 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.”

In November, USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale reported that a change of name seemed inevitable, even with the team still in a “listening and learning’’ phase, per a Cleveland spokesperson at that time. 

Contributing: The Associated Press 

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