They were then, and are today, the Tribe.
The long list of players who wore the uniform of the Cleveland Indians includes legendary names.
Guys like Rocky Colavito and Sam McDowell.
Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner. Sonny Siebert, Andre Thornton and Joe Charboneau.
Reading their names right now may have you smiling.
You even may confess that as a youngster, you spent a pocket full of nickles on Topps baseball cards, chewing that nasty powdery gum and hoping one of the six cards inside your pack was Vic Davalillo.
But things change.
It is a different time now, a different era. We live in a complicated world, or we’re at least very capable of making things complicated.
Statues that were once deemed historic are now being defaced and hidden away like they never existed. And those Cleveland Indians that so many of you have cheered for, they may become the Cleveland Rockers or Cleveland Walleye by this time next year.
Say it isn’t so, Joe… but it is. Earlier this month, the franchise kicked that door wide open when it acknowledged it was discussing changing its 105-year-old moniker, one that comes filled with history.
Fans wore their Indians’ jerseys and shirts with pride on opening day in 1975 when Frank Robinson homered in his first game as the Indians player-manager. Then there was Larry Doby becoming the first black player in the American League while wearing the uniform of the Cleveland Indians.
When Lenny Barker threw that perfect game in 1981, you could have sworn you were celebrating a big day for the Indians. And as Omar Vizquel put on a clinic at shortstop during the mid-90s, you may have thought all is well.
Not so, some say.
You were really disrespecting an entire culture of people, they’ll tell you.
Calling a team the Indians, Redskins, Apaches, Seminoles or even the Tribe is inconsiderate at best and racist at worse, they argue.
So how does that make you feel?
It’s a serious accusation. No group of people should be subjected to ethnic or racial slurs, and some Native American activists believe that’s exactly what’s been happening in Cleveland all these years. In addition, they see all the merchandise sold with the Indians nickname as perpetuating stereotypes.
Are they really asking a lot?
It’s not like teams haven’t changed nicknames before. There’s a long list of changes, too. It includes:
• The Miami (of Ohio) Red Hawks, who changed from the “Redskins” in 1997. The team had previously been known as the “Big Reds,” the “Reds and Whites,” the “Red-Skinned Warriors,” and the “Miami Boys.”
• The Stanford Cardinal was adopted in 1981. The team was formerly known as the “Indians” (1930–1972) and the plural “Cardinals” (1972–1981).
• And let us not forget those St. Bonaventure Bonnies, even though we may want to. In 1979, they changed from the “Brown Indians” and “Brown Squaws.” I’m not making that up.
But really, is it possible for every team to have a nickname that is wholesome, family-friendly and fun?
Should the Cincinnati baseball team ditch the nickname Reds? One could think the nickname is a plot to get children to subconsciously support communism. And what does PETA have to say about the Detroit Tigers? Is it right for such a bad team to diminish an entire breed of mighty animals?
As for Cleveland, one thing you can always say is the city knows loss.
There was that November day in 1995 when Art Modell told fans he was moving the Browns to Baltimore. LeBron James broke hearts 10 years ago when he left town. He did come back to give the city its first professional sports championship in 52 years, only to bail again.
Don’t take bets either way on the city’s baseball team. It is anyone’s guess what the future holds.
ROSES AND THORNS: A man with a mission makes a stop in the rose garden.
Rose: To Curtis Shannon Jr., who organized a couple of peaceful rallies involving younger residents of Lima to protest the treatment of blacks by police. He followed up on that protest by appearing before Lima City Council last week.
Thorn: The theft of several motor vehicles has taken place around Lima in recent weeks, including one in which the thief was confronted by the homeowner, only to see the thief threaten to bash the homeowner’s head with a baseball bat.
Thorn: For at least 15 years, John Magness of Lima has placed two Hibiscus trees at the corner of Metcalf and O’Connor streets. This year someone thanked him by swiping them.
Thorn: Margaret Cox, 87, purchased two yellow crocks at an auction. She left them sit for three minutes as she went to get her car. When she came back to pick them up, they were gone.
PARTING SHOT: It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.