The baseball team, the Cleaveland Indians, is changing its name to Guardians. The announcement comes with a video narrated by Tom Hanks and The Black Keys’ song Little Black Submarines. The name change will go into effect after the 2021 season.
Tom Hanks speaks about the team’s history and the people who make up the city. The name change he refers to is a way to bring people together as “one family” and deliver the “next era” for the baseball team. As the community is said to “protect” what they have “earned” and “always defend it.” This transitioned into the name reveal as the Cleaveland Guardians. The inspiration also derives from stone monuments found on the Hope Memorial Bridge that are referred to as Traffic Guardians and built during the Great Depression. It is not directly named after the bridge, but it is a nod to a known local site.
Decisions to put everything together beyond the video with Tom Hanks took a lot of time. Approximately 1,200 names were in the running, 140 hours worth of interviews with fans and personnel, and a survey that reached 40,000 people were a part of finding the right name. It was kicked-started by discussions about the potentially offensive nature of the name. Additionally, social unrest last year from the death of George Floyd and other Black people who were killed by police became talking points.
Responses to the video with Tom Hanks have been a mixed bag. One Twitter user posted a picture of the actor from a cameo in The Simpsons and wrote from the Saving Private Ryan star’s perspective by introducing himself and saying about how the Cleaveland Indians ownership “lost credibility” so they can borrow some of his.
Others focused less on Tom Hanks and criticized it as erasing history from Native Americans with the name change.
Besides having one of the biggest Hollywood actors make the introduction, the Internet did run wild with jokes about the new name, Guardians. Most of it was about the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel comic book characters, and movies that were directed by James Gunn. Bleacher Reporter tweeted a photoshopped version of the poster for the first movie with faces of players on the characters. Even the filmmaker for the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies responded to all of the connections being made on Twitter.
It caught others’ attention that Tom Hanks narrated the video. The 65-year-old actor is a California native having been born in Concord and attending college in the Golden State. It is a mix of reasons. For one, he is a big fan of the team. Secondly, in 1977 he was an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, and during that summer, he earned his Actors’ Equity card.
According to Cleveland.com, Tom Hanks was reached out to for the job to narrate the announcement video for the Guardians. The team’s president of business operations, Brian Barren, spoke about the Oscar-winning actor’s connection to Cleveland and that it “speaks volumes” that he was a part of lending his voice for this video. When working with him, he was said to be “gracious” and “unbelievable.”
While some may have learned about Tom Hanks’ connection to Cleveland, there is also the inclusion of The Black Keys. The group is from Akron, which is approximately less than an hour outside of the city.