CLEVELAND — Former President Donald Trump faulted the Cleveland Indians baseball team for changing its name to the Cleveland Guardians.
The Indians had previously announced they were changing their name — a move that came after the Washington Redskins ditched their nickname to become the Washington Football Team. Critics contend the names — especially the Redskins and the Indians former “Wahoo” logo — are offensive to Native Americans. A number of colleges, universities and high schools have also changed some nicknames related to indigenous persons, ethnicities and past stereotypes and in recognition of historical mistreatments of Native Americans.
The Major League Baseball team debuted the Guardians name on Friday. The nickname links to the longstanding Guardians of Traffic statues on a Cleveland bridge.
The new name did not impress Trump who has had political spats with other major sports figures and institutions including LeBron James and the National Football League. Trump had previously shown interest in owning an NFL team and owned USFL’s New Jersey Generals.
“Can anybody believe that the Cleveland Indians, a storied and cherished baseball franchise since taking the name in 1915, are changing their name to the Guardians,” Trump said in a statement. “Such a disgrace, and I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country. Wouldn’t it be an honor to have a team named the Cleveland Indians, and wouldn’t it be disrespectful to rip that name and logo off of those jerseys? The people of Cleveland cannot be thrilled and I, as a former baseball fan, cannot believe things such as this are happening. A small group of people, with absolutely crazy ideas and policies, is forcing these changes to destroy our culture and heritage. At some point, the people will not take it anymore,” Trump said.
The Indians will become the Guardians for the 2022 season. The team solicited name ideas from fans and landed on the Guardians citing its local links.
“We think Guardians is unique and authentic to Cleveland,” Indians president of business operations Brian Barren said Friday. “It’s less about the Guardians of Traffic and more about what the Guardians represent and that idea of protection. For us and our research, Cleveland folks are very protective of one another. They’re protective of our city, they’re protective of ‘The Land’ and everything about it.
“That’s one key component, the resiliency of people here in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio and the loyalty. The loyalty to Cleveland, the loyalty to one another as teammates, as co-workers, as family and friends. Those all become part of what ‘Guardians’ really starts to evoke from an emotional standpoint.”