Today in Tribe History: January 17, 1915

The American League club formerly known as the Cleveland Naps will now be referred to as the Cleveland Indians, as team president Charles Somers announces the name selected by the local Cleveland baseball writers.

The name was picked in part because it had been a name previously applied to Cleveland’s National League club two decades earlier. The new moniker was thought to be temporary and dependent upon how the team played throughout the year after their last place 51-102 finish in 1914, 48.5 games out of first place.

In a story published January 18, 1915, in The Plain Dealer, it was noted that a star player for the NL’s Spiders, “Chief” Louis Sockalexis, was of Indian descent and his strong play led to baseball fans around the country referring to the club as the “Indians”. It was said to be “an honorable name” and that the team played to an excellent record under the nickname. It was believed that the name would “recall fine traditions” while “looking backward to a time when the Sixth City had one of the most popular teams of the United States.”

In another move, the committee also agreed to change the name of the city’s American Association team, then named the Bearcats. The nickname “Spiders” was selected for that club, paying homage to the same defunct NL team that had gone by that name during their playing days.

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