Five new name ideas for the Cleveland Indians

Feb 28, 2018; Tempe, AZ, USA; Detailed view of the Chief Wahoo logo on a Cleveland Indians uniform during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2018; Tempe, AZ, USA; Detailed view of the Chief Wahoo logo on a Cleveland Indians uniform during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Cleveland Buckeyes

The Cleveland Indians could be renamed the Cleveland Buckeyes in homage both to the designation of Ohio as the ‘Buckeye State’ and to the Cleveland Buckeyes, who represented the city in the Negro League in the 1940s.

The Buckeyes won both the 1945 and 1947 Negro League championships. Buckeyes stars included several prominent Negro Leaguers, among them Al Smith, Chet Brewer, Sam Jethroe, Quincy Trouppe, and Sam Bankhead. Smith and Jethroe both later played in the majors, Smith taking part in the 1954 and 1959 World Series.

But there are potential downsides to naming the team “Buckeyes.” The argument could be made that, especially in Ohio, that name is the full property of Ohio State University, and should not be encroached upon by a professional team.

Thinking long-term, it is also possible that adopting the name of a Negro League team might draw activist criticism as a form of cultural appropriation. Backers of the idea would be quick to note that the name would be adopted as a gesture of honor, but that’s the same argument backers of the “Indians” name have made regarding Sockalexis for years with decreasing effectiveness.

Having fought and seemingly lost that same battle, Cleveland Indians team owners and managers may not be in the mood to risk inviting more criticism.