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Cleveland’s baseball team plans to drop the name Indians after 105 years

American League Cy Young winner Shane Bieber throws a pitch for Cleveland during the 2020 postseason. The team will go by a different name in the future. (David Dermer/AP)

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will drop “Indians” as its name, an official familiar with the team’s plans confirmed Sunday night — a move that comes after years of pressure and protest from Native American groups and others who viewed the name as racist and insensitive.

The change, first reported by the New York Times, could be announced as soon as this week, and it follows a similar move by Washington’s NFL team in July to drop “Redskins” as its name and compete in 2020 as the Washington Football Team as it works to rebrand the franchise.

It was not immediately clear what the new name for the Cleveland baseball team will be, whether it has been chosen or whether it will be in place for the 2021 season, which is scheduled to begin April 1.

The team has been known as the Indians since 1915, but long-standing pressure on the organization to change the name intensified this year during the nation’s public reckoning over race and social justice issues.

The team began seriously considering changing the name this summer, saying in a statement July 4: “Our organization fully recognizes our team name is among the most visible ways in which we connect with the community. … We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

Later that month, team owner Paul Dolan vowed to meet with leaders of Native American groups to discuss the name — the most evident sign to that point of the momentum behind a name change. That vow came after Dolan held what he called “candid and productive” meetings with players and coaches regarding the name.

The move to drop the name comes almost three years after the team announced plans to drop its “Chief Wahoo” mascot — a caricature that was used as a logo on caps, uniforms and other merchandise. The change was phased in beginning with the 2019 season, with the mascot replaced by a block “C” design.

At the time, Philip J. Yenyo, executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio, called the retiring of the mascot a “baby step,” adding: “The nickname has to go, too. If they don’t get rid of the ‘Indians’ name, our culture and our spirituality are still going to be mocked by fans.”

Cleveland has been one of MLB’s more successful franchises over the past several years. It has reached the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, and it played in the World Series in 2016.