The Cleveland Indians have competed in the American League since 1901. Currently, they’re one of five teams competing in the American League Central Division. Their name has been a topic of recent discussion, but regardless of what the public calls them, they’ve been one of the prides of the locals for more than a century.
History of Cleveland Indians name
In their first year of play, the Cleveland ball club was known as the Bluebirds. They changed to the Broncos in 1902, and then from 1903-1914, they were known as the Naps (after star player Nap Lajoie). In 1915, they took on the name Indians, which has led to their popular nickname, the Tribe.
After the Washington Football Team removed Redskins from its name in the summer of 2020, the Indians announced they’d be exploring whether they too should change their name. That includes meetings with the players and staff, along with discussions with Native American groups. No decision has been finalized yet.
Key figures in Cleveland Indians power positions
Owners: Larry Dolan, Paul Dolan, Matt Dolan
General Manager: Mike Chernoff
President of Baseball Operations: Chris Antonetti
On-field manager: Terry Francona
Stadium: Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field, opened in 1994)
When’s the last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series?
- 1920: The Indians beat the Brooklyn Robbins, five games to two, to win the 1920 World Series. The Indians were led by player-manager Tris Speaker.
- 1948: Cleveland hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, when the Indians beat the Boston Braves, four games to two. Cleveland also won with a player-manager in this series: Lou Boudreau.
- The Indians have reached the World Series on four occasions since and lost all four times: In 1954, 1995, 1997 and 2016.
Famous Cleveland Indians players
- Nap Lajoie: Lajoie played for Cleveland from 1902-1914. In that time, he recorded more than 2,000 of his 3,243 MLB hits. He obviously made a mark since the club was named after him for more than a decade.
- Tris Speaker: Speaker was a remarkable centerfielder in the early part of the 20th century. He was said to sneak up on baserunners from the outfield to attempt pick-offs at second base. Speaker finished his MLB career as a .345 hitter, which ranks fifth in baseball history.
- Bob Feller: Feller made his debut for the Indians at the ripe age of 17. He would’ve put up even bigger numbers if he hadn’t left the team during World War II. Feller was regarded as the hardest thrower of his day, earning him the nicknames “Rapid Robert” and “Bullet Bob.”
- Lou Boudreau: A sure-handed gloveman at shortstop who played for Cleveland more than a decade (along with time as manager), Boudreau also hit .296 in his time for the Indians.
- Jim Thome: Thome hit 337 of his more than 600 big-league home runs with the Indians. He was a centerpiece of the mid-’90s Cleveland teams that reached two World Series.
- Larry Doby: Doby broke the American League’s color barrier shortly after Jackie Robinson did so in the National League. An outfielder, Doby was also quite the player, slugging more than 200 HRs in his time with Cleveland.
- Al Rosen: Rosen was a corner infielder and slugger during the 1940s and ’50s with Cleveland. He was named the American League’s 1953 Most Valuable Player when he slugged 43 home runs and drove in 145 runs.
- Manny Ramirez: Ramirez teamed with Thome on those mid-’90s Indians team. He’s regarded as one of the most gifted right-handed hitters of all time, although his occasionally air-headed moments brought out the phrase, “That’s just Manny being Manny.”
- Corey Kluber: Kluber was traded away from the Indians following the 2019 season. A non-prospect rising through the minors, Kluber went on to claim both the 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young Awards.
Current Cleveland Indians stars
- Francisco Lindor: A switch-hitting shortstop, Lindor has Gold Glove-ability in the field and an infectious smile to go with 30-HR power.
- Jose Ramirez: Ramirez is another switch-hitter who plays third base for Cleveland. He and Lindor often bat back-to-back in the order.
- Mike Clevinger: While his hair evokes a California surfer, the right-handed Clevinger is one of baseball’s top young pitchers.
- Shane Bieber: Bieber began the shortened 2020 season on a historic strikeout pace. The young right-hander also claimed MVP honors of the 2019 All Star Game, which was played in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Indians and Major League
The Indians were featured in a popular movie, Major League, and its sequels. The original film came out in 1989 and featured a rag-tag group miraculously winning to keep Cleveland’s owner from moving the team.
Charlie Sheen was one of the stars of the movie, playing the wild closer dubbed “Wild Thing.” Sequels came out in 1994 and 1998, titled Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors.