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Name Changing With the Times

Editor, News-Register:

As a life-long fan of the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball franchise, I do admit that I agree with the recent decision to change the team’s name from “Indians,” which has been the team’s moniker since the 1915 season, and therefore has been such for over a century since, but will be reportedly dropped following the 2021 season.

The decision, which was made and announced by team owner Paul Dolan, who has served in that capacity since 2000, is reportedly fully supported by the team’s field manager, Terry Francona, players, coaches as well as franchise employees at all levels.

The name change decision is a result of concerns expressed by Native Americans, and others as well who consider such usage of the team — although by no means so intended — to be seen as demeaning and no longer appropriate to be utilized in its present capacity.

Although at present, using the term in such a way is largely seen as inappropriate and offensive by some, it was actually given to the Cleveland Major League Baseball franchise out of respect for former player Louis Francis Sockalexis (1871-1913), who was a Penobscot Indian by heritage who played for the franchise from 1887-99.

He was the first Native American to play (in the majors) … and as a result of the fact that (he was) a true barrier-breaker and baseball pioneer, as well as for his excellence on the field, he was posthumously honored with his induction into the Cleveland Indians Baseball Hall of Fame.

In addition, prior to his tenure with the Cleveland baseball franchise, Mr. Sockalexis had been an outstanding collegiate baseball player, and was also inducted into the University of Holy Cross Sports Hall of Fame for his excellence on the baseball diamond there, as well.

When the Cleveland baseball franchise adopted the name “Indians” for their team, it was in order to shoe deep respect and appreciation to Mr. Sockalexis by being a true pioneer for his people. However, although some intentions were well-meant, it appears that times are now such that Mr. Sockalexis should perhaps be honored in a more appropriate manner, and his race, although not intended to be insensitively portrayed … now appears to be not at all appropriate under present circumstances.

Richard Hord

Martins Ferry

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