The Cleveland Indians will finally change their name next season. The team has opted to become the Cleveland Guardians, and announced the move in a video voiced by noted Oakland A’s peanut vendor and former Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival intern Tom Hanks. The video—which was also scored by Akron, Ohio natives The Black Keys—underscores the team’s storied history, with Hanks saying, “We remember those moments as we move forward with change. Together we stand with all who understand what it means to be born and built from The Land. Because this is the city we love and the game we believe in and together we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
The Guardians name was one of four fan favorites going into the announcement, and is inspired by four art deco statues, the Guardians Of Traffic, that appear on a bridge near the team’s stadium. In her piece announcing the change, MLB Indians beat writer Mandy Bell aptly noted that, “Progressive Field looms in the background when facing the 43-foot “Guardians of Traffic” that have stood tall for nearly 100 years on the Hope Memorial Bridge. These sculptures are meant to symbolize progress, a concept that’s now trickling over to the city’s baseball team.” The sculptures were also in the opening credits of Major League, so there’s that, too.
Interestingly, the statues on the bridge were almost torn down in the mid-70s before being placed on the National Registry Of Historic Places. In the ‘80s, the bridge—formerly known as the Lorain-Carnegie bridge—was renamed the Hope Memorial Bridge after William Henry Hope, a local stonemason who helped build the statues and who was, perhaps most notably, the father of comedian and actor Bob Hope, who grew up in Cleveland.
To land on Guardians, the team surveyed more than 40,000 fans. Those initial surveys yielded almost 1200 team name options, which were then whittled down through 14 rounds of vetting and more than 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders, and Indians staffers. The team has posted a video detailing the process and why it landed on Guardians on its site, along with information about the team’s new visual identity and logos.