Today marks the 100th anniversary of Cleveland's professional baseball team adopting the name Indians. After also having been named the Blues and Bronchos for one season apiece, the team was known as the Naps from 1903 to 1914, on account of Nap Lajoie's awesomeness. In January of 1915 though, Lajoie was sold to Philadelphia, leading the team to seek out a new moniker.
From an old newspaper clipping posted by Dan Lee at Baseball Think Factory comes this collection of contenders:
Cleveland sporting writers gathered with officials of the local American league club to decide on a new name for the Naps. The sale of "Nap" Lajoie to the Athletics necessitates the move. Suggested names are: "Colts," "Black Sox," "Bucks," "Hustlers," and "Grays."
Ultimately none of those were chosen (Hustlers presents so many interested logo possibilities), and instead local sportswriters began calling them the Indians. Some have said this was to honor Louis Sockalexis, a Native American who played in Cleveland during the late 1800s and had passed away during the previous winter. Others have said that story is complete boloney. The most in-depth story on it that I've ever read was written by Joe Posnanski, and is (like most of Joe's work) well worth reading.
Here we are, one hundred years later, and it turns out the name stuck.
A look back at the century (and counting) life of Cleveland Indians:
After a terrible season in his first year, he put up a .500 record the next season, then posted a winning record in each of his next seven seasons. In the midst of that stretch, at the tender age of five he won his first World Series.
He won more than he lost throughout his teen years and twenties, but couldn't ever quite win the American League often bested by Yankees, a real jerk from New York. When he was 33 years old old, Indians put together an incredible season, won the pennant and then the World Series.
The rest of that decade saw Indians play some of his best baseball. In 1954, when he was 39 years old, he was probably better than he'd ever been, and captured his third AL pennant, but was bested in the World Series by another New Yorker, this one named Giants, a powerful guy whose most powerful weapon was his Willie.
Indians fell into mediocrity in his 40s, then fell even farther in his 50s. Things were a bit better during his 60s, but still not very good. Finally though, as he approached 80, he began to put things back together, and at the age of 80 he reached his first World Series in 41 years. That year marked the first of six division titles in seven seasons, though he was not able to win either of the two World Series he reached.
Indians was 86 when that great run ended, but at the age of 92 he surprised by posting the best record in baseball during the regular season. He faced Yankees in the postseason and punched him out, then had Red Sox (who claims to be the polar opposite of Yankees but actually has a lot in common with him) on the ropes before wearing down and falling a win short of the pennant.
At the age of 98 Indians reached the postseason again, and at the age of 99 he posted a winning record for the second year in a row, something he hadn't done since his 80s. As he turns 100, many believe he looks better than he has in years.
How will he celebrate his centennial season? I look forward to finding out.