The Atlanta Braves unveiled new uniforms Monday. Well, they’re really old uniforms, or at least similar uniforms worn by the team when it came to Atlanta in 1966. And like many other teams around baseball, the Braves want to reach into their past to allow people to appreciate the history of the franchise.
But there is one problem. The new jerseys are missing one important part of the 1966 uniform: the screaming Indian head on the sleeve.
Instead, the Braves are being politically correct so not to offend people and decided to crisscross two tomahawks and create a new logo to place on the sleeve.
The screaming Indian, as it is described, was the primary logo of the Braves for years, even dating back to the team’s days in Milwaukee. Then in 1991, when the team became relevant with a winning club, protests at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium by Native Americans led to the team changing its logo.
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The claim was the logo with the Indian was racist and offensive. The Braves did not want the scandal or the negative publicity, so they agreed to change the logo and feature the tomahawk instead of the Indian.
I’m sure I’m bound to upset someone with this column, and for that I apologize. I know racism is something we all have to deal with personally. What one person thinks is racist may be different in someone else’s eyes.
But we’re talking about a logo. We’re talking about baseball. We’re talking about something that was a symbol of this team for decades. And it’s just ironic that when the Braves are talking about going back to their history they are leaving something important out.
Heck, they didn’t even want to use the Indian feather that was part of the uniform for much of the 1970s. They instead came up with this awkward logo with two tomahawks that is bizarre.
Call me a traditionalist or maybe just a longtime fan, but I miss that old screaming Indian. I miss Chief Noc-a-Homa. I miss him doing the dance on the mound before the game, blowing fire and taking off in a sprint to his teepee. And yes, I miss seeing that teepee in left field.
Remember when they took the teepee down in 1982? Ted Turner thought the old stadium needed more seats, with the team doing well that season. So he ordered the teepee taken down. But when the Braves proceeded to lose 19 out of 21 games, Turner admitted he made a mistake and had it put back up. The Braves then turned around and went on a winning streak and ultimately won the division.
Bring back the teepee. It’s not like it’s going to keep people out of their seats at home games, with some of the smaller crowds we’ve seen recently.
You can’t blame the Braves for wanting to avoid a mess 20 years ago. They were changing their reputation from being a laughingstock in baseball and becoming one of the top franchises in the game. The last thing they needed was people picketing the stadium over the logo.
But can’t we embrace the past and honor what this mascot is all about? In Boston, the Braves’ head was even between the A and the V as Braves was spelled out on the jersey. It was in Milwaukee when the screaming Indian became part of the uniform.
I really wonder if people offended by the Indian head are also offended when they hear the chant or when they see some fans dressed up as Indians? Is all of it offensive, or is it just the screaming Indian?
These discussions have taken place in Washington with the Redskins, in Cleveland with the Indians and in Tallahassee with the Seminoles. They all still have their logos, their symbols. But the Braves bowed to public pressure and went from an Indian to a tomahawk.
They didn’t change the name to the Tomahawks. They are still the Braves. And that’s why it’s a shame they don’t embrace the mascot with the Indian head.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com.