CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from July 5, 2020.
The son of a former Cleveland Indians player who went on to play for the same franchise before serving as its manager for the past eight seasons, it would be understandable if the team's name had some sentimental value to Terry Francona.
But when asked about the news that the Indians will move forward with changing their name, Francona made it clear which part of the franchise he's truly attached to.
"I'm really proud of our organization for trying to do the right thing. I think what's important for people to understand is what we're really proud of is the first name of our team, which is Cleveland," Francona said. "Maybe in the next year or so, the fans and the people can have fun with [a new name] moving forward. I just don't want it to ever get lost -- we're not trying to be disrespectful to anybody, believe me. We're trying to be the opposite and that's being respectful."
That Francona didn't object to the Indians' impending name change hardly comes as a surprise, considering he was one of the first voices in the organization to publicly support such a move when the franchise first announced it was having discussions regarding the matter in July. The subject of the Indians potentially changing their name has been a polarizing topic for years with multiple Native American groups disapproving of its use as a nickname.
But while the Indians abandoned the red-faced caricature Chief Wahoo logo following the 2018 season, it appeared they'd be moving forward with the name for the foreseeable future. That, however, was before the awakening to racial equality and social justice that took place earlier this year, which Francona referred to as an "epiphany" regarding his stance on the Indians' name.
"We always that we didn't want to ever be disrespectful. But I think we found in 2020 that just saying that wasn't correct anymore," Francona said. "Regardless of how we felt about it, what was really ultimately most important was how other people that it was affecting felt about it."