Cleveland Indians Name Change: Which Alternatives Have Been Suggested?

The Cleveland Indians are planning to change their nickname for the first time in more than a century and drop references to Native American culture.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported the MLB team will shed the monicker it adopted in 1915, becoming the latest professional to abandon Native American imagery, amid accusations its use is racist.

Cleveland's nickname has long been a thorny issue, with Native American and campaign groups regularly organizing protests outside Progressive Field to urge the franchise to change its name.

In 2018, the team dropped Chief Wahoo from their uniforms, stating that the logo was no longer appropriate, and replaced it with a block C.

When Washington's NFL franchise renamed itself Washington Football Team in July, Indians owner Paul Dolan vowed to explore a potential change of name. Five months later, the change is imminent.

Here are six potential alternatives.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians
Jose Ramirez #11 celebrates with Francisco Lindor #12 and Cesar Hernandez #7 of the Cleveland Indians during Game One of the American League Wild Card Series against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller/Getty

Cleveland Spiders

When The Plain Dealer ran a poll in July asking fans to pick a potential new nickname, Spiders was the clear winner as it received more than 33 percent of the votes. The nickname carries strong historical connections as Cleveland boasted a baseball franchise called the Spiders between 1889 and 1899, which included six future Hall of Famers, including pitcher Cy Young. Even for a city like Cleveland, where championships have been a rarity and franchises have been routinely disappointing, the Spiders' swift demise stands out.

In 1899, franchise owner Frank Robinson bought the St. Louis Browns, plundering Cleveland's roster to add talent to the Browns, whom he had since renamed the Perfectos. The Perfectos were in fact rather fallible and failed to win a championship, while the Spiders were left with a skeleton roster and its 20-134 regular season record in 1899 remains the worst in MLB history.

Cleveland Rockers

The name would be a nod to one of Cleveland's most famous and recognizable features—the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The name was previously used by one of the eight founding franchises of the WNBA in 1997, but the Rockers brief existence came to an end in 2003 after the Gund Family, who had bought the franchise from the WNBA a year earlier, withdrew its support and the league failed to find a new local buyer. As far as omens go, renaming a team after a franchise that lasted just seven seasons, may not be the best course of action, but Rockers received 15 percent of votes in the poll.

Cleveland Naps

The name pays tribute to one of Cleveland's first baseball superstars, Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie, who held the unique honor of having a team named after him while still playing for the franchise.

Lajoie joined the then-Cleveland Blues in 1902 and immediately became a fans favorite, so much so that when a local newspaper ran a write-in contest to suggest new nicknames for the team, Cleveland Napoleons was the standout winner. The name was subsequently shortened to Naps.

Cleveland Guardians

Like Rockers, Guardians would also pay homage to one of Cleveland's most distinguishable features—The Guardians of Traffic. The Art Deco statues have adorned the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge since 1932, with each statue holding a different vehicle in its hand to represent the development and progress of ground transportation.

Cleveland Buckeyes

Given Ohio is known as "The Buckeye State", Cleveland Buckeyes may seem like a logical replacement, particularly as it carries significant historical connections—the Cleveland Buckeyes were a member of the Negro League between 1942 to 1950. However, when it comes to sport in Ohio, Buckeye is synonym with Ohio State University and it may take a while before fans get used to hear the Buckeyes spoken about in the context of an MLB season as opposed to Big Ten football.

Cleveland Clevelanders

Not the most original or inspiring or names. Then again, neither was Washington Football Team when it was first adopted in July, but the monicker has since grown on fans.