Why are they called the Cleveland Indians?

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The team was officially dubbed the Indians in 1915, but the reason is in dispute. Some sources say the Indian name came because the Boston Braves won the 1914 World Series and the theme was popular, others say it was to pay respect to Louis “Chief” Sockalexis, a native American who played pro ball in Cleveland in the last years of the 19th century. Sockalexis died in December of 1913, however, so I’m not sure why it took a full year for the team to change their name for him. The team itself clings to this latter explanation, in part to avoid the controversy of using the term “Indian” which has increasingly become more politically incorrect.

The Cleveland baseball team has had a long history of nicknames. First, they were known as the Blues because they wore blue striped socks. Then they were called the Naps after their star player, Larry “Napolean” Lajoie.

In 2020, the team announced that they would be replacing the name “Indians” in the near future.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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