By Andy Roesgen
CHICAGO, United States (AA) - A 105-year chapter in US professional baseball came to a close Friday, with the unveiling of the new name for Cleveland's team: the Guardians, formerly the Indians.
Team owner Paul Dolan said that last summer's murder of George Floyd and worldwide protests that followed, spurred him to dump the name that was becoming increasingly viewed as racially insensitive.
"Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity," Dolan said in a statement. "We wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders."
The team unveiled the name change in an equally high-minded, dramatic video, narrated by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, and backed by orchestration and music from the Black Keys.
Hanks made reference to some of the most dramatic events in the team's history, comparing it to the city and said: "We remember those moments as we move forward with change ... and together, we are all ... Cleveland Guardians."
The team had already made one concession in 2018, by dropping the use of its mascot, seen on team jerseys: a smiling Indian caricature called Chief Wahoo, which Native Americans long criticized as offensive.
But the team continues to sell merchandise with the logo.
The team sifted through more than 1,000 possible replacement names for name and consulted with tens of thousands of fans and community leaders before deciding on the Guardians.
The name is a reference to two massive iconic sculptures called "Guardians of Traffic" that sit along a major bridge above the Cuyahoga River, just outside the Cleveland ballpark.
Cleveland is not the only professional sports team undergoing a racially-sensitive makeover.
In 2020, the professional football team from Washington D.C. ditched the Redskins, which had been used since 1933.
The team was under even more pressure to change that name than Cleveland, and, until the team finds a new name, it is simply known as the Washington Football Team.