After several months of legal threats, it appears the Cleveland Guardians are now finally a reality.
Shortly after the former Cleveland Indians announced they would be known as the Guardians starting with the 2022 season, a roller derby team based out of Cleveland challenged the club’s proposed use of the name. That was all settled this morning according to this press release sent out by the ballclub:
“The Cleveland Guardians Baseball Company, LLC and Guardians Roller Derby are pleased to announce an amicable resolution of the lawsuit filed by Guardians Roller Derby, whereby both organizations will continue to use the Guardians name.”
So essentially… the baseball team gets to use the name, the roller derby team gets to keep using the name plus (what I’m assuming) several large trucks filled with green bills. No, no terms of the deal were released, and I doubt they ever will be.
This legal spat may be the reason why the Guardians put a hold on their merchandise sales, originally scheduled to be launched this morning at 9 am. According to Cleveland.com that was halted with no new launch date announced. It may also explain why both Major League Baseball and the team itself had yet to update their websites or social media graphics for 2022 to show the new name and logos. Just the other day, MLB posted a graphic showing 2022 World Series odds using the now-retired Indians “C” logo as well as the city name of “Cleveland” over the team name of “Guardians” as all the other clubs had been listed.
The Cleveland Guardians logo set includes a primary logo showing a winged-letter “G” wrapped around a baseball to form a pitcher’s split-finger fastball grip. The logo is a nod to the winged-helmets of the Guardians of Traffic statues that line the Hope Bridge near their home ballpark, the fastball grip is in reference to the team’s long history of talented pitching.
Oddly enough this isn’t the first time a professional sports team was challenged by a roller derby team over their proposed name. In 1961, the recently formed San Francisco pro Western Hockey League team announced plans to be known as the San Francisco Seals, in reference to the seals which populated the area. A local roller derby team with the same name accused the hockey team of stealing their identity and they eventually settled, with one commentator at the time correctly pointing out “they just both stole their name from the old San Francisco Seals baseball team, anyways”. Those San Francisco Seals would eventually change their name to the California Seals and in 1967 would go on to play in the National Hockey League as one of six expansion teams to join during the 1967-68 season. (A story very well covered in my book Fabric of the Game: The Stories of the NHL’s Names, Logos, and Uniforms, *cough*)
Now we just wait until the day when we can finally see some Guardians merchandise out there. Caps will feature a new “C” logo on the same crown and visor, uniforms will be identical to what they had been wearing the last several seasons with the only difference being a swap out of the old “Indians” logos for the new “Guardians” marks. The first regular season game with the new name is set for March 31, 2022, at home, against the Kansas City Royals.