Sunday, September 25, 2022

Name drop: Cleveland ready to say goodbye to Indians

There is no further debate or decision. There is still some anger and disbelief, but also the excitement that comes with change.

The Cleveland Indians are going to be history.

On Monday, one of the American League’s charter members will play its final home game of 2021, and its last game as the Indians at Progressive Field since 1915, when “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was right fielder on the opening day. .

Much more than the rain makeup against the Kansas City Royals, the home finish will signal the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for the team, which will be called the Cleveland Guardians next season.

It will take some time to get used to it. The Indians are all the Clevelanders they have ever known.

“I’m not a betting guy,” said longtime radio play-by-play broadcaster Tom Hamilton, citing what’s next. “But I have to over-estimate how often we will say that Indians are a million.”

After the season finale on October 3 in Texas and with no post-season for a team that had not won a World Series since 1948, there would be a transition period before the Indians – designated by some as racists – were dropped. And Guardians appear on the new uniform with the logo, unveiled in July, to mixed reviews.

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At some point, Guardian merchandise will go on sale and the massively script “Indian” logo will crown the ballpark’s giant left-field scoreboard, a moment many Clevelanders may have never imagined.

And while the end of the Indians has been known for a while, it still seems to be sneaking up on some fans.

“It hit us when we came in,” said Kathy Wainwright, of Elyria, Ohio, as she and her husband, Mark, took a bite to eat and a couple pregame beers before the Indians hosted the Royals.

Before entering the ballpark, the couple walked to the corner of Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue to take a photo of the entrance to Home Plate, where a lighted “Indian” sign greets fans.

“I knew it was the last time I’d get to see it this way,” Mark said.

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The team is not planning any celebrations to honor the Indians’ final performance at home. Unfortunately for many Cleveland fans, it’s happening at the same time that the Browns are hosting the Chicago Bears at First Energy Stadium just a mile away.

The Indians’ last home batting line-up has been another delicate line for the club to navigate, with the decision to rename it to heavy criticism from fans, who felt the team bowed to a small, vocal minority.

Others thought it was long overdue, and probably should have been when the team removed the controversial Chief Wahoo logo a few years ago.

The name change became inevitable last year when owner Paul Dolan announced his intention to investigate the use of Indians after being moved by widespread social unrest in the US in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Cleveland’s steps toward change don’t really matter at this point. No return from there. this is happening.

Sandy Alomar Jr. of the Cleveland Indians waits to walk on the field during a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on September 21, 2021 in Cleveland.

For Sandy Alomar Jr., the ending is conflicting.

A six-time All-Star catcher and current first-base coach for Cleveland, Alomar has a personal affinity for the Indians, the name he has worn on his chest for 23 seasons – 11 as a player, 12 as a coach .

He respects the team’s decision and understands the rationale behind the change, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him.

“It’s an emotional time for me,” he said. “I only know of being a Cleveland Indian. I am an Indian forever.”

Alomar was a driving force behind the mighty Cleveland teams in the 1990s when they moved from their lakefront ballpark, dominated the Indian underdogs and won five straight division titles.

“Those moments are irreplaceable, so I guess it won’t hit me as hard as when I have to put on the new uniform,” said Alomar, who plans to keep the wearer as a souvenir at the last game of the season. Used to be. .

“I can’t wash it,” he said. “I’m taking it home just as it is.”

Hamilton, who called his first Indian game in 1990, doesn’t know what to expect from Cleveland fans on Monday. He feels the name change will have a big impact next season – when the Indians don’t take the field.

“I think it’s going to be a great deal on Opening Day, the home opener,” he said. “The first game isn’t going to be in Kansas City as The Guardian, it’s going to be here. It’s going to be more interesting.”

Before summer completely fades, Don and Julie McDonald of Fairview Park, Ohio, took one last family trip to the ballpark this week. It was his son Josh’s 10th birthday, and he made sure to grab some new Indian merchandise, at least until the Guardian became available.

As their kids ate pizza slices along the railing in the right-field corner, McDonald’s wondered how things could be different going forward and how they could stay the same.

Indians can have a new name. His fans are not changing.

“It will be difficult to say no to Indian for the time being,” he said. “It’s been so natural for so long and I don’t see that Chief Wahoo will be gone any time soon. There are still a lot of fans wearing it. The name may be Guardian, but I think people are still Indian Will say.”

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Nation World News Desk
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