(Reuters) – Cleveland Indians manger Terry Francona said on Sunday he feels the Major League Baseball club should change its contentious moniker, in place now for 105 years.
Francona’s comments came two days after the Indians, amid a nationwide push to eliminate racially insensitive material, followed the lead of the NFL’s Washington Redskins and said in a statement they would consider changing the franchise’s name.
“I’ve been thinking about it and been thinking about it before we put out that statement,” Francona, 61, said during a video conference call.
“I know in the past, when I’ve been asked about it, whether it’s our name or the Chief Wahoo (logo), I think I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful. And I still feel that way. But I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today.”
The Indians, sometimes called the “Tribe,” have come under fire in the past for their controversial name. On Friday, the team said recent social unrest in the United States had underscored the need to improve as an organization on issues of social justice.
Francona, who won World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, said he is glad the Indians are now open to discussing the future of the team’s name.
“I think it’s time to move forward and not just say — it’s a very difficult subject. It’s also delicate,” said Francona.
“I think I lead the American League in errors made in life, which I’m not necessarily proud of. Even at my age, you don’t want to be too old to learn or to realize that, maybe I’ve been ignorant of some things, and to be ashamed of it, and to try to be better.”
In 2018, the Indians announced plans to remove the grinning “Chief Wahoo” logo from their uniforms beginning in the 2019 season in a bow to critics, who have long assailed the image as a racist Native American caricature.
The team still features the logo, a cartoon figure with red skin, a toothy smile and a feather in his headband, on merchandise sold in its stores in northeast Ohio and Goodyear, Arizona, where the Indians hold spring training.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Tom Brown)