Cleveland’s MLB Team Removes ‘Indians’ Name as New Era Dawns

Cleveland's MLB Team Removes 'Indians' Name as New Era Dawns Cleveland's MLB Team Removes 'Indians' Name as New Era Dawns Cleveland Indians president of business operations Brian Barren announcing the name change from the Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on July 23. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

By Max Newman | Tuesday, 02 November 2021 09:12 PM

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team, formerly known as the Cleveland Indians, has begun removing signage bearing the “Indians” name at Progressive Field, as the team prepares to enter a new era next season. Following pressure from Native Americans and progressive activists, the Cleveland team announced in July 2021 that their new name will be the Cleveland Guardians, starting in the 2022 season.

For Native American activists, the name change is broadly welcomed. After the revelation of the new Cleveland Guardians name in July, the Cleveland Indigenous Coalition and the Lake Erie Native American Council praised the change. The feeling of “out with the old, in with the new” was apparent as the first letters on the 80 ft long “Indians” sign started coming down Tuesday. Wind delayed the removal for a few hours, and the full sign will be placed in storage as the team reviews its options for a permanent location for the sign. The replacement sign will be a new “Guardians” sign, which will be installed prior to Opening Day 2022.

While the name change appears guaranteed, one significant snafu is a Cleveland based roller derby team of the exact same name. The Cleveland Guardians Roller Derby team sued the Cleveland Guardians baseball team over trademark issues on Wednesday October 27th to stop the MLB team from using the same name. The roller derby team has been the Cleveland Guardians since 2013. After negotiations between the two teams over the summer, the roller derby team mentions in its lawsuit, “A Major League club cannot simply take a smaller team’s name and use it for itself,” the lawsuit said. “There cannot be two ‘Cleveland Guardians’ teams in Cleveland, and, to be blunt, Plaintiff was here first.”

The lawsuit against the recently named Cleveland Guardians also alleges the team filed its trademark application in Mauritius, an island nation off of east Africa, which was “effectively hiding the application unless one knew where to look.” Negotiations between the two teams ended unsuccessfully last Tuesday, leading to the lawsuit against the baseball team. It remains to be seen whether the lawsuit against the newly named baseball team will have a strikeout, or a grand slam final result.