“Hammerin Hank” passed away on Friday at the age of 86 and garnered praise from across the United States – including the current president and past – for his prolific baseball career. Aaron also offered a healthy dose of hope to African American society by overcoming long-standing racism as he chased Major Baseball’s record for career home runs.
The governors of Georgia and Alabama have ordered half-mast flags in honor of Aaron – “Hammer” was born in the port city of Mobile, but lived in Atlanta most of his life.
The Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta United (MLS) and Georgia Tech University Football (NCAA) have indicated they will retire Aaron’s No. 44 next season. This number had been withdrawn long ago by the Braves.
Social networks then ignited, so that the name of the baseball team was replaced by the nickname Aaron. Even a petition has been posted about this.
“There are two important criteria for making a name change: 1) It must be a tribute to an icon who has represented our city with class and dignity for almost 50 years, and 2) It must erase the damage caused by the fact that our city has a team that lubricates the names of indigenous peoples, especially since one of the greatest tragedies in American history, the ‘Trail of Tears’ – this incident marks the governments’ displacement of more indigenous peoples. American between 1831 and 1838 – began in the area where the team is located, “the petition read.
The Braves reiterated that they did not want to change the name, as they see it as a tribute to indigenous peoples, not an insult.
The team took some precautions during the 2019 playoffs to cover up controversial symbols, especially after St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley – who is part of the Cherokee community – complained about the legendary Tomahawk Chop of the team.
Thus, the Braves did not distribute red Styrofoam tomahawks until the decisive game in the series, won by Cards. They also stopped playing the rhythmic music that encourages fans to imitate the tomahawk gesture with their arms.
Braves leaders did not say whether these changes would be permanent when spectators returned to the stands for games, but they removed the sign Hack is located near the entrance to SunTrust Park.
In recent months, some supporters have begun proposing new logos to replace the iconic tomahawk, including a hammer similar to it.
There are no indications that Aaron’s death will make a difference at this level. The oldest National League franchise began using the name Brave over 100 years ago when she was playing in Boston.
The team then called themselves ‘The Bees’ in 1936, before returning to their original name Brave in 1941.
Last year, the Washington football team changed its name, described by Meriam-Webster as “insulting and condescending.” The Cleveland Indians have also announced that they will change their name and logo, but not before the end of the 2021 season.
The Braves are among the many North American sports licenses that rely on nicknames inspired by indigenous communities, along with the Kansas City Chiefs (NFL), Golden State Warriors (NBA) and Chicago Blackhawks (NHL). By Paul Newberry, The Associated Press