Former MLB player Jim Edmonds was caught in the crossfire of fans on social media Thursday night when, during a live broadcast of a St. Louis Cardinals game, he said he was “shocked” that teams have opted to change their names, referencing the Cleveland Guardians and the Washington Commanders.
Edmonds, 53, was in the booth for the Cardinals’ game against the Houston Astros when, in the bottom of the seventh inning, he shared messages he has received on social media from fans over the recent push for teams to change their names for having Native American monikers.
“You know what’s really funny is when people reach out to you and say ‘Hey I’m from this area, and we really love our baseball here.’ And somebody else will say, ‘Yeah, I wish they had the old names that they used to have.’ It’s just funny to hear everyone’s opinion,” the Cardinals legend said.
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“I’m still shocked that we’ve changed so much as a whole that [we’re] not allowed to have the Cleveland Indians anymore — the Guardians. And I’m saying that too because my wife is partial Native American Indian.
“I always thought it was kind of a cool thing, not a bad thing, to have a team named after the Indians or vice versa, whatever, the Washington Redskins.”
While some came to Edmonds’ defense for sharing his opinion, many called out his comments as problematic.
“Maybe this finally gets Jim Edmonds off Cardinals games,” one user tweeted at Bally Sports Midwest.
Another person called him a “horrible hire” and a “garbage human being.”
The Commanders retired their former name in July 2020 after decades of complaints that it was insensitive to Native Americans. Eighteen months later, Washington’s new identity was revealed.
“As an organization, we are excited to rally and rise together as one under our new identity while paying homage to our local roots and what it means to represent the nation’s capital,” former co-owner Dan Snyder said in a statement at the time.
Cleveland followed suit in July 2021, changing its name for the first time since 1915 to the Guardians.