The Cleveland Guardian nickname is hard for some fans

Cleveland – Bill Baldain, a 52-year-old Cleveland Premier League baseball fan, conducted an informal poll Friday as he awaited a meeting with friends in the Cleveland Guardian’s first home game of the season.

Boldin counted the names of the team on the Cleveland compatriot fans ’shirts as they roamed downtown. He collected 38 T-shirts bearing the word “Indians” for the team’s old nickname until he saw at least one team’s new name, the defenders. It was a highly unbalanced ratio and a set of unscientific data, but not unexpected.

“And I hope it stays that way forever,” Boldin said.

Boldin’s views represent a large portion of Cleveland fans, many of whom were categorically opposed to the team’s decision to change its name to 2020 after 107 years. The decision was made after decades of protests by Indian American groups and others who claim the old name was racist.

Friday was the first home game for the rebranded Cleveland Guardian, a new name chosen to capture a partial, historic, Cleveland-focused theme depicted with statues of traffic guards near the progressive field at Hope Memorial Bridge, where the team plays. The team has already played six games as a Guardian this season, but that was all on the way. Friday gave the first opportunity for the hosts fans to gather en masse and express their feelings and devotion.

Bob Hostltler, the owner of a computer store in Willoughby, Ohio, wore a sharp, white T-shirt with the old team name on it and a hat with the image of Chief Wahoo with the infamous old logo of a cartoon, smiling Indian American. This cartoon, which was loved by many but considered grossly offensive by others, was removed from team uniforms in 2019 as the franchise began a gradual process to distance itself from the old image and nickname.

“I love Senior Wahoo,” said Hostutler.

A few days after the team announced that it was abandoning its centuries-old name, the host promised he would never pay to see the defenders, so he was outraged by the decision. But when his brother offered him a ticket for Friday’s game, he decided to go. Then, on Friday afternoon, at a party in front of the back gate, he was handed a guard t-shirt as part of a promotional gift. He picked up the T-shirt but was going to give it back as a gift.

“I will never wear it,” he said.

For decades, protesting against a team name has been as much a part of Cleveland’s opening day as flights and ceremonial first pitches. Protesters gathered in the streets surrounding the stadium and carried signs to change the name of the team; They repeatedly met the fans entering the stadium. But on Friday, for the first time in recent memory, there were no protests except for a man carrying the American flag in support of world peace, and another man, a few blocks away, promoting religious piety.

The new form of protest comes in the form of a shirt and jacket bearing the word “Indians” and hats depicting a senior Wahoo. In some cases, this is the only team attire owned by the fans who wear it, and many wear the names of former players who have never worn a jersey. Even for those fans who support a new name, asking them to buy all the new equipment requires significant expenses.

But in other cases, wearing old clothes was the key.

“I do not like it,” said Bill Marshall, a 64-year-old heating and air conditioning engineer from Cleveland. He said he was opposed to the name change, a decision eventually made by Guardian CEO Paul Dolan. “They succumbed to pressure,” Marshall said.

Marshall showed his devotion and his opinion in bright colors, wearing a blue jacket and hat with the name and logo of the Indians.

Adapting to a new name will take time for many loyal fans, but the name changes are actually part of the fabric of the Cleveland franchise. In the early years of the 20th century, the Cleveland team was known as the Blues, Bronchos, and Naps until they finally settled on the Indians in 1915.

This year, Defenders became the fourth MLB team in the last 90 years to change names without moving cities, and only the second to receive a completely different name. In 2008 Tampa Bay Devil Rays became Rays. The Houston Colt 45s changed their name and Astros in 1965, while the Cincinnati Reds were called the Reds from 1954 to 1958. The Brooklyn Dodgers, who had many nicknames in their early years, were known as superbasses for 12 years before becoming. The Dodgers in 1932.

But the name change for Cleveland comes amid an unstable global battle over etiquette and terminology that sometimes occurs in the sports world. And that happened at a time when teams from the Washington NFL franchise to dozens of colleges and high schools were shifting to nicknames that were criticized as insensitive, or racist.

“The whole culture of abolitionism has gone too far,” Boldin said.

A government employee from nearby Solon, Ohio, Baldini is not as inflexible as some of his fellow fans. He welcomed the decision of the Washington football team to reject the insulting name and acknowledged that Chief Wahu should also leave. Although there were plenty of similar hats on Friday, Boldin did not wear them.

Many people associated with the team, including fans and longtime players, sometimes inadvertently used the old name, not out of evil, but simply out of habit. Carlos Baerga, a former all-star second baseman and now a special assistant on the team, accidentally refers to the team by his old name in the conversation.

“It’s hard for a lot of people after all these years,” Baerga said. “But this is what the team wants and what the owner wants, so you follow it. We played for the city, at least, not the name. That is the most important thing. “

Terry Francona, Cleveland’s manager for the last 10 years, has made a huge contribution to the fans by getting a new name. He was born in 1959, the first six years since his father, Tito Francona, played in Cleveland, so his legacy is intertwined with the club. Francona hailed Dolan’s courage and said the defenders were just trying to respect him.

“Sometimes people do not appreciate change,” he said. “But I think if you ask some people, maybe people of color, the status quo is not always good.”

And not all Cleveland fans are so keen on the team’s past. Alex and Jean Ann Reno, married couple ind. From Upland, a new era of bodyguards was celebrated on Friday with one of Cleveland’s new logos, a curve, cartoon-style C, with tattoos on the feet.

“Times are changing,” Jean Ann said as the couple showed off their new body art.

He and his wife spent four hours in Cleveland on Thursday and went straight to the team store where they bought new Guardian equipment to wear on Friday. Alex said they received a “ton of flake” from other fans for wearing it.

He learned the love of the Cleveland team from his father, who was originally from Toledo, Ohio, and loved the team. He took Alex to his first game at the Municipal Stadium in 1985, when Alex was five months old and the old team name was deeply ingrained in family knowledge.

“I did not like it when they changed,” said Alex. “But this is still my team.”

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