Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona fully supports a team name change.
Francona told reporters on a Zoom call Sunday that he will no longer sidestep the issue – which has regained new attention in light of social awareness and Washington taking similar action with its team name – a slur toward Native Americans – in the NFL.
“I think it’s time to move forward,” Francona said. “It’s a very difficult subject. It’s all delicate.”
The team released a statement on Friday that it would “determine the best path forward with regard to our team name,” but Francona said he had been giving it thought for a while.
“I know in the past, when I’ve been asked about, whether it’s our name or the Chief Wahoo, I think I would usually answer and say I know that we’re never trying to be disrespectful,” Francona said. “And I still feel that way. But I don’t think that’s a good enough answer today.”
The team’s use of Chief Wahoo – an offensive caricature depicting a Native American – is what has perhaps come under the most fire in recent years, and Cleveland decided to remove the mascot from its uniform last year.
Yet, the team still sold Chief Wahoo merchandise in its stadium last year and its name still came with criticism.
Francona, 61, added he also wants to show it’s never too late or too old to adapt.
“Even at my age, you don’t want to be too old to learn or to realize that, maybe I’ve been ignorant of some things, and to be ashamed of it, and to try to be better,” he said. “I’m glad that we’re going to be open to listening, because I think that’s probably the most important thing right now, is being willing to listen, not necessarily just talk.”