Don’t get us wrong: We love our Indianapolis Indians. We just don’t love the name.
No, we’re not hopping on a political-correctness bandwagon. While “redskin” is definitely a slur and Chief Wahoo is certainly an offensive cartoon stereotype, the word “Indians” by itself doesn’t feel disrespectful, especially because it’s so much a part of the name of our city and state.
It’s also worth noting that the current Indians logo, in use since 1993, was designed by local graphic designer Carlos Sosa, who can trace his ancestry to the Taino tribe of Puerto Rico. This logo is respectful, dignified, and brilliant. If you’re going to call yourself the Indians, this is the sort of logo you want.
No, our problem is more fundamental: “Indianapolis Indians” is just too easy. Too expected. Too vanilla. After 115 years, we thought it was time for a change.
So we went to work and came up with a bunch of new names we liked.
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We considered the Indianapolis Jackmen, named for the guys on Indy 500 pit crews who jack up the cars. We could have tied it to baseball by shortening it to Jacks—“jack” being familiar slang for “home run.” (Maybe too familiar.)
We thought about literary tie-ins. We considered the Indy Ice-Nine; because there are nine players in a baseball lineup, this name echoes both Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle and the convention established by the Indy Eleven. We thought the Indianapolis Ambersons had a magnificent ring to it. The Indianapolis Orphants, in honor of the Hoosier Poet, was in the running, but we deemed it too scary for younger fans.
Prominent local politicians figured in our thoughts, too. The Indianapolis Icebreakers could pay homage to President Benjamin Harrison—known to some as The Human Iceberg for his allegedly cold personal style. The Indianapolis Lugnuts could recognize both auto racing and a beloved former mayor. We thought our current mayor’s name offered some intriguing possibilities, but that honor, with all due respect, seemed premature.
Ultimately, we decided it would be more fun to focus on another of our favorite sons: We think the Indianapolis Indians should become the Indianapolis Lettermen.
With the Lettermen, we don’t have to explain the sports connection. (No connection to the ’60s hitmakers, though.) And the promotional and merchandising possibilities are virtually endless. We imagine you’ll be able to buy Toast on a Stick and snow cones the size of canned hams at the Atlas concession stand. Every vendor will claim to sell the World’s Best Coffee. We’ll have Pants of the World Night—a dollar off admission for anyone wearing lederhosen or harem pants. The fans will be entertained by the Lettermen’s mascot, Pat Trick, a talented hound with a noticeable gap between his front teeth. We’ll have late-night games that start at 11:30 p.m. and feature special guest stars like Janelle Monae and Father John Misty singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the music for which, btw, was written by Indianapolis native Albert Von Tilzer, aka Albert Gumm, who also penned such hits as “(I’ll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time,” and “Oh How She Could Yacki-Hacki, Wicki-Wacki, Woo.”
We’ve taken a stab at a new logo, home and away uniforms, and more, but we’ve just scratched the surface. Come on, fans. We know you can get behind this. If we can ride to work on The Babyface, surely we can visit Victory Field to cheer on our Lettermen.