Written By: Wednesday, June 28th 2017

Last year, Jerry Howarth, play by play announcer for The Toronto Blue Jays, got a lot of attention. He refused to say the name of the team Toronto was playing in the ALCS championship. Actually, Jerry hadn’t said ‘Cleveland Indians’ on air once in the last twenty five years.

He’d gotten a letter from an aboriginal fan and said it was one of the best letters he’d ever received. The writer politely explained how deeply offended he was by the names and logos for The Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves and by terms like ‘Pow wow on the mound’ and ‘Tomahawk Chop.’ He stressed, “I would really appreciate it if you would think about what you say with those teams.” Howarth wrote him back and hasn’t said them since.

This made media and it should have. Frankly, it should have twenty five years ago.

No team should be named after an ethnicity. We are getting better about examining our prejudices and biases but we have a long way to go before everyone on this planet is treated equally.

So good on baseball for bringing about a much needed discussion about race.

The members of the Midland Indians baseball team have decided their name needs to be changed. They’d been thinking about it for a while and the press around Jerry Howarth gave the impetus to get it done.

Pete Flood, player and local teacher, has been speaking to media and native groups since they decided to make the change. When I asked his feelings about the name he said “Well, it’s not a name I brag about at work.” The team hasn’t decided on a new name yet and would like your input.

This brings uniform changes ahead of schedule and out of budget. They have a kickstarter campaign to help offset the cost of replacing the name. They did get new hats right away which was the only piece with the distasteful Chief Wahoo logo – the same one as Cleveland’s Major League team. They’ve set up a Go Fund Me page to help cover the cost of changing uniforms.
Click here for Go Fund Me page

I hestitate to say good for the team for making this change, because I’m uncomfortable with the team name in the first place, but I think it’s fair to point out they’ve committed to something they can’t afford because they know it’s the right thing to do. I wish major sports teams would follow their lead.
One of the comments from the donors says it best “It was the only right decision and I’m relieved it was finally made”. I agree.