CLEVELAND — As the topic of social justice continues to be an important part of the sports landscape, the Cleveland Indians say they are having discussions about the future of their nickname.
The team released a statement on Friday evening indicating that those conversations have begun organizationally.
"We are committed to making a positive impact in our community and embrace our responsibility to advance social justice and equality. Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community," the team wrote in a statement posted to its social media platforms. "We have had ongoing discussions organizationally on these issues. The recent unrest in our community and our country has only underscored the need for us to keep improving as an organization on issues of social justice. With that in mind, we are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name."
The statement from the Indians comes on the heels of the pressure being put on the NFL's Washington Redskins to change its nickname: Following calls for change from the community, lawmakers, and sponsors, including FedEx and Nike, the team issued a statement Friday announcing a thorough review of the team's identity.
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, the Indians abandoned the use of the controversial Chief Wahoo logo, which was first utilized on Cleveland’s uniforms in 1948. Since it was removed from the team's uniforms, the Wahoo caricature has remained on items for sale in the team shop and stores around the Cleveland area in order for the club to retain the trademark. However, it is no longer anywhere on the field or signage in and around the stadium.
Cleveland's current Major League Baseball franchise has carried the nickname "Indians" since 1915, and while the official story was long that it was in recognition of former local Native American ballplayer Louis Sockalexis, historians have party disputed that claim.
Prior to the most recent name change, the city had two National League clubs in the 1800s named the "Forest Citys" and "Spiders." After the current team joined the American League as a charter member in 1901, they were briefly known as the "Blues" and "Bronchos" before adopting the moniker "Naps" from 1903-14 in honor of legendary second baseman Napoleon Lajoie.