CLEVELAND — 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.
By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.