Name drop: Guardians' launch starts with store sign smashing

Fri Nov 19 11:55am ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer

Cleveland Guardians mascot Slider greets fans at the opening of the team store in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Cleveland. It's Day One for the Guardians, who will put caps, jerseys and other merchandise on sale to the public for the first time since dropping the name Indians, the franchise's identity since 1915. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


Cleveland Guardians fans look at new merchandise at the opening of the team store in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Cleveland. It's Day One for the Guardians, who will put caps, jerseys and other merchandise on sale to the public for the first time since dropping the name Indians, the franchise's identity since 1915. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


Lucas Foote, left, and Greg Foote, center, check out at the opening of the Cleveland Guardians team store in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Cleveland. It's Day One for the Guardians, who will put caps, jerseys and other merchandise on sale to the public for the first time since dropping the name Indians, the franchise's identity since 1915. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


Workers from the Brilliant Electric Sign Company put out caution tape as pieces of the Cleveland Guardians team store sign lie on the ground in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The sign was being installed and fell off the building. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


Pieces of the Cleveland Guardians team store sign lie on the ground in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The sign was being installed and fell off the building. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


Cleveland Guardians fans wait in line at the opening of the team store in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. It's Day One for the Guardians, who put caps, jerseys and other merchandise on sale to the public for the first time since dropping the name Indians, the franchise's identity since 1915. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


Ben Traska, right, helps customer John Marquart at the opening of the Cleveland Guardians team store in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. It's Day One for the Guardians, who put caps, jerseys and other merchandise on sale to the public for the first time since dropping the name Indians, the franchise's identity since 1915. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


A sign with the new team name of Cleveland's baseball team, Guardians, is displayed in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. It's Day One for the Guardians, who put caps, jerseys and other merchandise on sale to the public for the first time since dropping the name Indians, the franchise's identity since 1915. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


A worker from the Brilliant Electric Sign Company holds a broken piece of the Cleveland Guardians team store sign in Cleveland, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Cleveland. The sign was being installed and fell off the building. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze)


CLEVELAND (AP) A special opening day for the newly named Cleveland Guardians began with a bang.

Not the one they hoped for, either.

As fans were buying the first available Guardians merchandise on Friday as the team officially transitioned from Indians after 106 years, a sign installed outside the team store at Progressive Field broke free from its mount and crashed to the sidewalk.

''Well, that's an ominous sign,'' yelled one onlooker.

A worker was on a ladder checking bolts when the sign snapped a small section of the ballpark's stone exterior, fell about 15 feet and smashed into pieces. No one was injured.

Fans began lining up early in the morning to buy new caps, sweatshirts, T-shirts and other gear bearing the Guardians' logos.

''This kind of exceeds expectations,'' said Karen Fox, the team's director of merchandising. ''Having people show up at 6:30, and then we had 100 people in by 9:14. You can kind of see the store looks like we're having a game today.''

The team also changed its social media handles to complete the changeover, a process that began in June 2020, when owner Paul Dolan announced the Major League Baseball team was dropping Indians in the wake of a social reckoning on racist names and symbols.

The Guardians ran into a legal issue along the way as a local roller derby team also called the Guardians filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement. The sides reached an amicable resolution earlier this week allowing both to use the name.

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