Cleveland selected "Guardians" as its new team name beginning in 2022 on Friday, culminating a project that saw nearly 1,200 potential choices to replace the franchise's previous moniker.
Friday's announcement came seven months after Cleveland announced it would discontinue the use of "Indians" as its mascot following the 2021 season. In '19, Cleveland announced it would stop the use of the Chief Wahoo logo on its uniform.
So how did Cleveland land on Guardians as its new team name? The new mascot pays homage to the Guardians of Traffic statues near Progressive Field in Cleveland, located on the Hope Memorial Bridge. Cleveland owner Paul Dolan noted Friday he hopes the name Guardians helps "unify our fans and city."
The Guardians of Traffic statues have flanked both sides of the Hope Memorial Bridge since 1932. Each of the four-winged Art Deco figures sports winged helmets and crowns, and each statue holds a different vehicle to signify "the spirit of progress in transportation," per bridge engineer Wilbur Watson. Each guardian stands 43 feet tall, and they remain the only public Art Deco monuments in Cleveland.
Guardians was just one of many names considered by Cleveland. There was a significant push for the Cleveland Spiders, which was the franchise's initial name in the 1890s. Cleveland teams previously went by the Blues, Bronchos and Naps before becoming the Indians in 1915.
"This is a historic moment for our franchise, and we are excited for our players and staff to debut our new team name and look in 2022," Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said in a statement Friday. "We look forward to our team proudly representing the city of Cleveland as the Guardians."
Cleveland has reached the playoffs in four of the last five years, including a World Series appearance in 2016. Perhaps changing to the Guardians will deliver Cleveland its first World Series since 1948 next year.