- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2020

As the Cleveland Indians prepare to choose a new nickname, the best option going forward might come from looking back.

The Cleveland Spiders — the name of the city’s baseball team from 1889 to 1899 — is the early frontrunner to replace Indians, according to odds from SportsBetting.ag. The next-best odds go to the Cleveland Baseball Team, following suit with what the Washington Football Team did as it ponders a more permanent nickname.

Cleveland officially acknowledged the decision to change its nickname Monday afternoon, confirming a report from Sunday from The New York Times.

“Today’s decision is the result of a process that began in June, following our public commitment to take a leadership role in helping address many of the social challenges affecting our community and to support the underserved and under-represented groups in Greater Cleveland,” a letter from Paul Dolan, the owner and chief executive office, read.

The timetable for the switch is uncertain, and the team will continue to use the Indians nickname and branding until a permanent choice is made. That gives plenty of time for the franchise to plan its next move, although Spiders could be the best fit.



For background, the Spiders nickname first emerged in 1889, while the Forest Citys and Cleveland Blues were used before then. The Spiders were one of the best baseball teams in the country before the turn of the century. Six former Spiders players have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including Cy Young — the legendary pitcher for whom the award for best pitchers in MLB is named after.

The Spiders won the Temple Cup, the predecessor of the World series, in 1895 on the back of Young’s pitching.

The 1899 season goes down in history for all the wrong reasons, though. After most of the team’s best players had been traded to the St. Louis Browns — a club Cleveland’s owner also owned — the Spiders finished with a 20-134 record.

Other team name options listed by SportsBetting.ag include the Blue Sox, Wild Things, Guardians and Crows. None of them seem as likely as the Spiders, although the current Cleveland franchise also used the nicknames Blues, Bronchos and Naps before settling on Indians in 1915.

The move for a new nickname doesn’t come out of the blue. The club stopped using the “Chief Wahoo” logo on uniforms ahead of the 2019 campaign. And on July 3, Cleveland issued a statement saying it was “listening, learning and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city and all those who support our team.”

The listening and learning the club did influenced Monday’s announcement. But it wasn’t a straight-forward decision, either.

“Over the course of the past several months, we conducted meaningful conversations with a variety of stakeholders, including Native American groups, fans, civic leaders, leading researchers focused on Native American culture and issues, internal teammates, players, and corporate partners,” Dolan’s letter read.

“These conversations were both enlightening and, at times, challenging, the letter continued. “We often found that individuals, even those within the same organization or demographic, maintained differing views and opinions of our team name. We valued hearing all perspectives, and we took them into consideration as we moved through the process.” 

The timetable is still uncertain, but change is coming — and perhaps it will lead to a return of the Spiders.

“My family loves baseball and loves Cleveland,” Dolan wrote. “We believe in the ability of our organization to make a positive impact within our city and to unite and inspire those around us to do the same.”

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