Cleveland’s entry into Major League baseball began in 1915. The team was first known as the Blues, then the Broncos. From 1903-1911, the team was commonly known as the Naps in honor of highly popular player-manager Napoleon Lajoie. The official name of the team was briefly the Molly McGuires — though, for what should be obvious reasons, remained popularly known as the Naps.
Then Lajoie was traded. It didn’t make sense to the team’s ownership to honor a player no longer with the organization. With input from Cleveland sportswriters, the team adopted the nickname “Indians.” It was in honor of Louis “Chief” Sockalexis, another popular Cleveland player who took the field in the 1890s for the short-lived National League franchise Cleveland Spiders.
And so it remained — until Friday.
For ridiculous reasons having to do with political correctness and anti-racism fully known only to the Cleveland front office, they are henceforth to be known as . . . the Guardians??
Really? Yes really. Complete with a video narrated by Tom Hanks, the Cleveland franchise announced on Twitter a change initially promised in July 2020.
If it was April 1, we’d have a hard time believing it wasn’t some monumental joke. But it isn’t. It’s very, very real. Not real like the nightmare you awoke from early this morning. Real as in that’s their new name. Chief Wahoo of the Cuyahoga has been consigned to the trash bin of history, allegedly too “insulting” to Native Americans to be kept alive in his tepee in left field.
It’s not just the name “Indians” that being cancelled. It’s a person, Louis Francis “Chief” Sockalexis. He is at the epicenter of the entire controversy. Chief was a member of the Penobscot tribe and is credited by many historians as being the first native American to play major league baseball. He played for three seasons, all in Cleveland.
With the name change from “Indians” to “Guardians” the Cleveland MLB franchise has turned its back on the Native American Jackie Robinson. Louise Francis “Chief” Sockalexis was the first Native American major league baseball player for the NL Cleveland Spiders. (Photo: Baseball Hall of Fame/Canton, Ohio)
He was a pioneer. He was the first. He is the Native American Jackie Robinson. He deserves to be remembered. Cleveland is going to do their best to erase him. The sad part? It will work. In ten years only a handful of people will know the story of the first Native American to play major league baseball.
Sadly, no one will even be curious. It’ll be like he didn’t exist. So, hooray Cleveland. You’ve turned something wonderful and good and true and replaced it with something bland and grey. The Guardians.
The Guardians. Who the hell are they, anyway? This name would appear to make absolutely no sense, for Cleveland or the MLB team residing in the city. Guardians? Where did that come from?
Well, if you are to believe the Ind . . . excuse me, Guardians (this will take awhile to get used to) . . . the inspiration comes from the nearby Guardians of Traffic, Art Deco larger-than-life busts atop Cleveland’s Lorain-Carnegie Bridge not far from the stadium.
Yes, the Cleveland Guardians are named after some stone heads on a bridge over the Ohio River. Perhaps worse is that the team is essentially responding to Fascist activists unduly angry about the death of a crack and meth addict who resisted arrest on a hot Memorial Day afternoon in Minneapolis 14 months ago.
In other words, the outcry for sports franchises to change their names and “insensitive” logos was renewed with the death of George Floyd. If that isn’t the height of absurdity, we’re not sure what is.
For some idiotic reason, multi-million dollar sports franchises — and in several cases, multi-billion-dollar franchises — believe they need to display as much wokeness as the far-left Fascist fringe.
The latest prior to Friday was the Washington Football Team Formerly Known as the Redskins. The NFL franchise dropped its “offensive name” before the 2020 season, and in the last few days indicated they will not have a new name and logo until the 2022 season. The irony is, it was the Fascists pushing for the change. Among Native Americans, only 10 percent actually found the name and logo of a noble chief — created by a Native American artist — to be offensive to them.
Pressure mounted for the Kansas City Chiefs to change their name as well, following the Washington franchise dropping the Redskins name and logo. The Chiefs have refused, citing the fact their name comes from former City of Kansas City Manager H. Roe Bartle, who was fondly known as “Chief” throughout the metro area. He was an expert in Native American culture and taught it in the academic community before entering politics.
Nonetheless, the Chiefs took several steps last year indicating they, too, are not immune to wokeness. The team banned headdresses from the stadium and strongly discouraged the fans of displaying the “tomahawk chop,” begun by the Atlanta Braves but enthusiastically adopted by Kansas City football fans. The team also banned face painting that “appropriated” Native American culture.
As for the Braves, they too have been pressured to change the team name, logo and — as have the Chiefs — discourage the “chop.” St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helshey called out the Braves before Game 5 of the NL Division Series in 2019, claiming the celebration depicts Native Americans as “cavemen-type people” who aren’t intellectual.
In response, the foam tomahawks placed on stadium seats throughout the games played in Atlanta were removed and the team promised to limit the number of in-game celebrations.
At least 14 Division I college teams have changed their names and mascots over the past several years, dating back to 1974 when Dartmouth dropped its Indians mascot and logo to go with the name Big Green.
All in the name of wokeness. But while college presidents, boards of regents and the NCAA, as well as all the major sports leagues make window-dressing changes, real bias, discrimination and unfairness is happening. We are talking about the woke Fascists pushing to allow biological males to compete as women in high school and college sports.
To begin this discussion with a clear and salient point: Discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation is not only amoral but wholly illogical. Someone’s choice of partners or their gender should have zero bearing on professional aspirations, civil liberties or right to pursue happy, fulfilling lives. In the eyes of the law, every person should be considered completely equal.
The need for such people to be in everyone else’s face demanding acceptance, however, is just as wholly illogical and unacceptable. Even worse is demanding acceptance as a gender to which one has no biological right to claim.
Ideals don’t always fit neatly into real life. One place where that comes into play is sports.
It is a simple biological fact that men are, typically, stronger, taller and faster than women. There’s a reason school and professional sports are segregated by sex: At their respective peak physical potentials, men are more athletic than women. That isn’t sexist. It’s biology.
But instead of focusing on that obvious unfairness, instead of speaking out boldly against the tide of wokeness that says black is white, male is female, right is wrong, the activists want to force teams into a corner and make them do what the activists want, even though it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
In so doing, they have completely dishonored and disrespected the Native America equivalent of Jackie Robinson. “Chief” wore number 13 in Cleveland. Maybe Major League Baseball needs to retire his number across the league and hold a day for him every season as is done for the late, great, rightfully celebrated and revered Jackie Robinson. “Chief” deserves no less, especially after being tossed aside like Chief Wahoo.
If MLB chooses not to do so, that truly is the height of absurdity.
Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, behavioral therapist, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He is a regular contributor to GenZConservative and has a Facebook presence known at America’s Conservative Voice-Facebook.