Guardians are born; Indian sign is destroyed

CLEVELAND (AP) – A special day, when the Cleveland Guardians were born, started out with a bang, but not exactly what the team expected.

Many fans bought the first items alluding to the team, which abandoned the Indios name used for 106 years. Suddenly, a sign installed outside the store at Progressive Field came loose and shattered on the sidewalk.

“Well, it’s an ominous sign,” commented one witness.

A worker was on a ladder, checking the bolts holding the sign, when the sign tore off a small section of the park’s exterior cladding, made of stone. The logo fell about 15 feet (4.5 meters) and crashed, leaving no injuries.

Fans began lining up early in the morning for new hats, sweatshirts, T-shirts and other paraphernalia with the new Guardians emblems.

“In a way this exceeds expectations,” said Karen Fox, the team’s director of merchandising. “Having people come in at 6:30 in the morning and the fact that we had 100 people by 9:14 made the store look like when we have a game.”

Greg Foote and his 15-year-old son Lucas weren’t planning to be first in line. Things turned out like this.

And while they waited to get in, Slider, Cleveland’s mascot, rewarded them with knitted Guardians hats as gifts. They were the perfect accessories for the cold morning downtown.

After months of preparing for the name change, Fox said the store’s opening made everything seem more real.

“I was like a child waiting for Christmas,” she said.

In the park, the team will continue to sell items with the Indios name, which were practically sold out at the end of the previous season. The proceeds from these products will go to youth support organizations and causes, Fox explained.

Some fans will be slow to accept the new name. There could be a period when new jerseys and hats are just as visible in the park as items with the old name.

“There are still people who like the name Indios, and those people can still wear those clothes here,” Fox said. “Really what matters is the team on the ground and the city of Cleveland.”

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