Since 1912 the predecessors of the current Atlanta baseball team have been called the “Braves” in Boston and Milwaukee prior to arriving at the Georgia capital in 1966.
Although the keeping of the image of an Indian is in danger, the main opposition is not that of Native Americans, but are primarily both political activists and also dedicated supporters of a great Hall of Famer, Henry (Hank) Aaron who was also known as “Hammering Hank.”
A movement is underway to change the name of the team to the “Atlanta Hammers” in recognition of a great baseball player and advancer of civil rights in the segregated Deep South and his many acts of philanthropy.
Did the New York Yankees change their name to the “New York Ruths” when the Bambino probably saved the image of the game of baseball after the disastrous Black Sox gambling scandal of 1919?
Did the Brooklyn Dodgers change their name to the “Brooklyn Robinsons” when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as the first African American ball player in the National League in 1947 while undergoing racial slurs and death threats when integrating baseball and subsequently being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
Did the Cleveland Indians change their name to the “Cleveland Jets” based on the nickname of Sam Jethroe?
The answer to all three questions of course is obviously “no”!
Because of constant objections of Native Americans, the logo of the Braves has allegedly been changed 29 times, including the depiction of an Indian on the uniform, its colors, creation and abandonment of Chief Noc-A-Homa (1953-1986), “Princess Win-A-Lotta” (1983), the free distribution of rubber tomahawks to do the “chop” and other symbols.
Owner Ted Turner took down the couple’s tepee in left field to provide more space for paying customers but a tail spin by the team into a long losing streak precipitated a temporary replacement of the native tent due to fan outrage as a perceived cause of the consecutive multiple defeats.
Yes, the “Washington Redskins” are no more and the “Cleveland Indians” are also headed to oblivion but the future of the “Braves” is still unclear.
By coincidence or deliberate design, the team has moved to include native Americans in the now missing tepee of the Braves Nation when they honored the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian Nation on July 17, 2021 by having Chief Richard Sneed throw out the first pitch to manager Brian Snitker and to allow members of the tribe to enjoy the game after the Harrah’s Casino in North Carolina allegedly purchased 300 tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays (formerly Devil Rays) contest.
Complete with Native attire performing Cherokee ritual dances and Chief Sneed being interviewed on Bally’s Sports Southeast television broadcast with Chip Caray, the Braves have developed a further relationship with the tribe.
Additional recognition of Hank as a Braves legend will be made during the July 30-August 1 homestand.
Finally, they have established a permanent Cherokee exhibit next to the Hank Aaron statue outside Truist Park.
The image of Hank Aaron as one of the greatest ballplayers and advocate for civil rights has already been established without the changing of the name of the Atlanta Braves because of political and corporate pressure.
For a complete history of the Braves during their years of existence in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, the organization released in November 2020 the commemorative book “150 Years of Braves Baseball” that is available for sale exclusively at the Braves Clubhouse Store in Truist Park for $50. It includes a special foreword message from Hank Aaron.