Reports are indicating that the Cleveland Indians will officially change their team name, but what are the options on the table?
It’s official. What was long assumed is becoming reality. The Cleveland Indians will be changing their team name. To some, the move is long overdue. To others, it isn’t necessary. However, in the end the change comes nonetheless and the process for selecting a new name is in full swing.
Speculation for what could be the next name has been around for a long time and has included everything from past team names, like the Spiders, to new team names, like the Guardians, and even jokes, like the Steamers. As we walk through Cleveland’s baseball history, could any past names be reborn or will a new nickname take the mantle?
The current edition of the Cleveland Baseball Team arrived to the city in 1900 and held the moniker of the Lake Shores. The modern rendition of this would be the Cleveland Lakers, but there’s a certain NBA team who has a stronghold on that nickname.
After just one season, the Lake Shores became the Bluebirds and were often referred to as the Blues due to the team’s blue uniforms. The players on those teams didn’t care for the name, but thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays, that’s another name we can rule out for the newfound name of Cleveland baseball.
From there, the Indians made a move to acquire Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie who quickly became a fan favorite, captain and manager. Through a newspaper poll, the Bluebirds became the Naps, named after their star player. Given that Lajoie hasn’t been a member of the organization for over 100 years, it can be assumed that this is also ruled out.
When Lajoie left the organization the team needed to find a new name and it was at this point that the Cleveland Indians were born. Ownership turned to local baseball writers to come up with the new name and they settled on the Cleveland Indians. The writing and reasoning surrounding the name is more than enough to understand why the moniker is being left in the past and begs the question of why it was accepted in the first place.
So while the past names of the current organization can be ruled out, there are other previous names that were held by franchises than preceded the current club.
Cleveland Forest Citys
The Forest Citys were around on three different occasions, first being from 1865-1868 as an amateur team and then returning from 1869-1872 before the final edition from 1879-1881. None of the versions of the Forest Citys saw much success and the team eventually changed to the Blues before moving merging with the St. Louis Maroons in 1885.
Due to the lack of success of the lack of creativity, the Forest Citys can be added to the list of names to be ruled out from a return.
The Cleveland Spiders have been heavily rumored as a possibility and one of the reasons is the success that the team had. Playing from 1887-1899, the Spiders were the first professional Cleveland baseball team to play at League Park and were also the first to have success on the field.
Led by Cy Young, the Spiders made two appearances in the Temple Cup Series, which was similar to the World Series before the World Series was a thing. The Cleveland Spiders were even able to capture the title in 1895.
However, the Spiders were bought out before the 1899 season by the same owner as the St. Louis Browns. Moving the Spiders’ best players to the Browns, St. Louis seemed to take away professional baseball in Cleveland for a second time, leaving the Spiders with what would be considered a minor league team in today’s game. After the season, the Spiders folded.
Given that the Spiders had some success, including a championship, that could help the case of the return of the moniker. However, the fact that the Cleveland Spiders were never part of the current franchise takes away a bit of the draw.
A member of the Negro Leagues, the Cleveland Buckeyes played from 1942 until 1950. One of the pluses of this idea is that the Buckeyes had the same color scheme as the Tribe and it can be assumed that the colors would remain. The Buckeyes also played in two Negro World Series, winning in 1945.
The downside of this nickname is obviously Ohio State. If you say Buckeyes anywhere in the Unites States in reference to sports, Ohio State is what comes to mind. It would be a steep uphill battle to try and rewrite that in people’s minds.
That brings us up to speed on past nicknames in Cleveland baseball history. There are a few other names that either weren’t official or were around for only a season or two at best. Luckily, there are new nicknames emerging that could become a brand new team in Cleveland.
A fan favorite that has been rumored as much as the Cleveland Spiders is the Cleveland Guardians. A nod to the markers on one of the bridges that leads into Cleveland, the Guardians look onto Progressive Field and carry with them a connection to the city.
Any connection to the city will give a nickname a plus, but the Guardians would also be unique to Cleveland. Plenty of teams have the Spiders nickname throughout sports, like the University of Richmond, but there are few, if any, Guardians.
There are also some intriguing concept logos out there that would easily incorporate the current Cleveland colors while adding a new modern flair.
Cleveland Rockers or Cleveland Rocks
There are a few different reasons for this nickname, foremost being the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame being in Cleveland. Like the Guardians, the Rockers or Rocks have a connection to Cleveland, even if the Hall is much further north in the city and closer to the Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium than it is to Progressive Field.
The other side is the connection to the song “Cleveland Rocks” which is played after every Cleveland win. Commonly known as the Drew Carey song, Cleveland Rocks is anthem for Cleveland fans and would very easily carry over to the new name here.
Some people have thrown around the thought of revisiting the idea that surrounded the Naps by naming the team after players like Larry Doby or Bob Feller. There’s also a bunch of names that could create an endless list being tossed around on social media.
What we know is that the Cleveland Indians era is coming to an end. With that will begin a new era in Cleveland baseball history, hopefully one that contains more titles. There will be articles upon articles of speculation, but until the club gives any indication of what could be, we’ll be left guessing what to call the team for the foreseeable future.