CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Before the first pitch in the spring, the Cleveland Guardians era has already begun.
“New C. Same City,” the team’s Twitter account says.
Cleveland baseball’s social pages migrated to the Cleveland Guardians overnight Thursday to coincide with the opening of the Cleveland Guardians Team Store at Progressive Field.
The store opened Friday at 9 a.m.
The team had the name Cleveland Indians since 1915.
There is debate over whether the name was to honor Louis Sockalexis of the Penobscot Tribe, who played for the team under the Spiders from 1897 to 1899, or the team capitalizing on the success of the Boston Braves, who just won the World Series.
However, a team named after a race of people along with the racist imagery and traditions that came with it was protested for years by Native tribes.
Headdresses in Indigenous culture are reserved as one of the highest honors, meant to be worn only in ceremony as a symbol of strength and bravery.
The tomahawk chop, tribes protested, is demeaning to their culture.
The name change to the Cleveland Guardians was announced officially in the summer of 2021.
“It’s still Cleveland baseball here at Progressive Field,” Cleveland Guardians Coordinator of Communications Jeremy Fedor told FOX 8 Friday.
“We’re still going to have Jose Ramirez on third base, Shane Bieber on the bump.”
“It’s all about the city of Cleveland,” said Karen Fox, Director of Merchandising.
While many fans have expressed disappointment about the name change, others lined up outside the Team Store before it opened Friday.
“I’ve been waiting for it,” Lucas Foote told FOX 8.
Lucas and his dad Greg drove up from Norton and arrived when it was still dark outside.
They said it was like their first Christmas present.
“We’re season ticket holders and we love baseball,” Greg said.
“Thought we’d come down and get some Christmas gear.”
The team’s mascot, Slider, was dressed in a tuxedo jacket and a new Guardians hat for the occasion.
“Are we ready?” a worker said before unlocking the door. “Let ’em in,” someone yelled back.
At 9 a.m., Slider opened the doors to a cheering crowd.
“Today marks a major step in our transition to the Cleveland Guardians, launching a new era in Cleveland baseball at Progressive Field that embodies the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders,” said President of Business Operations Brian Barren. “We know this will impact our fans in different ways, and we will always remember and appreciate our history as the Cleveland Indians. We look forward to taking the field as Guardians on Opening Day in 2022 and living up to our new name by working to unify our fans and city.”
The team was initially named the Cleveland Lakeshores when it relocated to the city in 1900.
The name change process started in June 2020.
The organization says it surveyed 40,000 fans as part of its name selection process.
The Cleveland Guardians Team Store is located at 2401 Ontario St.
The Guardians open 2022 at Progressive Field against Kansas City with Opening Day scheduled for March 31.