Cleveland Indians to change their nickname, drop “Indians”

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Cleveland Indians’ Francisco Lindor, center, celebrates after scoring on a double by Domingo Santana off Detroit Tigers pitcher John Schreiber during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

CLEVELAND (CBS NEWS) — The Cleveland Indians have decided to change their nickname, moving away from the moniker they’ve employed for more than 100 years but that many consider insensitive to indigenous peoples.

CBS Sports HQ’s Jim Bowden confirmed the story first reported in The New York Times. In a statement to CBS News, the team said, “We don’t have a comment. We do not dispute anything written” in the Times.

The newspaper said the team could announce as soon as this week that it’s changing its nickname.

It’s unclear how Cleveland will refer to itself during the upcoming season. One option is to keep the name for an additional year before transitioning to a new identity; another is to go the route of the National Football League’s Washington franchise, which dropped its “Redskins” nickname in July. The club has since been known as the Washington Football Team. Cleveland would, presumably, be called the Cleveland Baseball Team until a new nickname could be settled upon.

Cleveland’s decision comes more than two years after it started to distance itself from the “Chief Wahoo” logo. Back in July, when the Washington Football Team announced its altered identity, Cleveland announced it would investigate the “best path forward” regarding its team name.

Subsequently, CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry offered several replacement options, including the ever-popular “Spiders,” as well as the “Rockers,” the “Crows,” and “Dobys,” referring to Hall of Famer Larry Doby, the American League’s first Black player.

Cleveland’s franchise has had three other identities: the Naps (after Nap Lajoie), the Bronchos, and the Blues. Of those, the Naps is the only name that lasted beyond a single season.

Though Cleveland seems to be progressing toward a name change, there’s no indication that the Atlanta Braves will follow suit. The Braves have also faced increased criticism in recent years for their promotion of the “Tomahawk Chop” gesture.

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