Columbus — A Democratic state lawmaker is hoping to convince his colleagues in the legislature to urge the Cleveland Indians to change its name and mascot to something “free of racial insensitivity.”
Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati), a short-time running mate with gubernatorial hopeful Ed FitzGerald, introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 42 on Aug. 6, noting that the professional baseball franchise and its Chief Wahoo logo “have been criticized for perpetuating Native American stereotypes.”
Kearney added in a released statement, “Over the years, we’ve seen a number of sports teams, colleges, universities and organizations, including Miami University of Ohio, change their nickname due to the concerns of Native Americans and the perpetuation of stereotypes. The continuing use of the Indians nickname and a stereotypical Native American caricature, such as Chief Wahoo, is an affront to Native Americans.”
The resolution is a mostly symbolic offering. It wouldn’t change state law or force Cleveland to change its name and mascot.
However, it would serve a formal statement of lawmakers’ opinion on the issue.
SCR 42 notes that Cleveland adopted its current nickname in 1915. Prior, it was known by several nicknames, including the “Lake Shores,” the “Spiders” and the “Naps.”
Kearney’s resolution also outlines a number of racial milestones for the team — potentially having the first American Indian player (Louis Sockalexis, from 1897-99), the first black player in the American League (Larry Doby, in 1947) and the first black manager (Frank Robinson, in 1975).
“Cleveland’s professional baseball franchise is a great organization with a rich history,” Kearney said. “By changing its name and mascot, the organization will be making a symbolic decision that would show that much has changed since 1915 when the name was adopted. I encourage the team not to pass on a legacy that carries racist undertones to future generations of fans.”
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.