The Cleveland Indians didn’t wear their usual jerseys on opening day. Instead of wearing their home jerseys that read “Indians” on the front, the team wore road jerseys that say “Cleveland” across the chest.
With the franchise considering a name change, the move is intentional. All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor said the team decided to make the change as a way to shine a light on Native Americans, according to the Associated Press.
“We know change is due and it is time,” Lindor said before the Indians hosted the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. “But I believe positive change can happen. Shining the light on those minorities and people who are in need, it’s extremely important.
“That’s what we’re doing out there — bringing the spotlight on those people, minorities that need the spotlight on them so their voices can be heard. Positive change can happen. We’re due for it.”
As Lindor indicated, the players seem on board with changing the name. On Thursday, team owner Paul Dolan said the players “feel strongly about social justice and racial equality.” Manager Terry Francona is supportive of a name change, saying he believes “it’s time to move forward.”
The switch to the road jerseys could be temporary. Francona told the AP league rules could prevent the team from wearing its road jerseys at home moving forward.
MLB players have engaged in racial injustice demonstrations in 2020
Though the season started Thursday, the league has already seen various demonstrations to draw awareness to racial injustice in the United States. The New York Yankees and Washington Nationals knelt down for a demonstration prior to Thursday’s game. Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts — and a number of San Francisco Giants — took a knee during the national anthem prior to the Dodgers’ opener.
Cleveland’s decision to wear road jerseys on opening day fits in a similar vein. It’s now up to the league to decide whether the team can continue wearing those jerseys, and up to Dolan to determine whether to change the team’s name.
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