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Fan report: How the Cleveland Indians got their name
The Cleveland Indians as we know them now have a very long history—dating back to 1901 with the formation of the American League.
Originally they were called the Cleveland Bluebirds, but the players didn't like the name, and the press often shortened their name to the Blues.
Soon after, they acquired a star second basemen from the Philadelphia Athletics- - his name was Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie. A local newspaper ran a write-in contest to rename the Cleveland team, and "The Naps" won.
They continued to play as The Naps until 1915 when the 40-year old Lajoie was traded away. Again, team owners went to the newspapers, who came up with the name "Indians".
Legend says that the Indians were named in honor of a Native American ballplayer in Cleveland—Louis Sockalexis, who played in the late 1800s for the Cleveland Spiders. His nickname was Deerfoot of the Diamond. This legend is untrue. The Indians were actually named as a play on the name of the Boston Braves, who won the 1914 World Series and were known at the time as the "Miracle Braves" for coming back from a four-loss deficit in the series.
The fact that Sockalexis was the first major league Native American player and played his entire career on the Cleveland Spiders at the time only stood to reinforce the Indians name. Nevertheless, even the Cleveland Indians themselves claim that the team is named after Sockalexis.
Johnathan Parr is a Cleveland native and lifelong Tribe fan. You can catch him on the 2011 World Beer Tour.
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