During the 2021 World Series, the Atlanta Braves made headlines for the wrong reasons. Perhaps the biggest non-baseball storyline associated with the World Series, Atlanta’s first appearance since 1999, was the use of the “Tomahawk Chop” by Atlanta fans particularly in the trio of games at Truist Park.
For those unfamiliar, the Chop is a hand gesture that mimics the swinging of a tomahawk. At Braves games, it is often accompanied by a war chant. If the Braves score a run, get out of a tough inning, or make a great defensive play, chances are, you’ll see tens of thousands of Braves fans move their arm in a coordinated fashion: the Chop.
This article is not saying the Chop is right or wrong; it is providing an alternative that the Braves should consider implementing instead of the Chop. Instead, the Braves should introduce the Hammer.
Henry “Hank” Aaron is one of the most recognizable names in MLB history. He held the all-time home run record for decades. Aaron has one of the longest lists of accolades a baseball player can have, and he spent 21 years with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. He is the Braves franchise leader in bWAR, slugging percentage, OPS, games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI, OPS+, runs created, and extra-base hits. To put it simply, if you go to the page titled “Atlanta Braves Top 10 Career Batting Leaders” on Baseball-Reference and hit CTRL-F, Aaron lights up 31 times.
“Hammerin’ Hank” is one of the iconic names in baseball lore. With the combination of a legendary nickname and a legendary career, the Braves should float the idea of changing the Chop to the Hammer in honor of their greatest ever player.
Perhaps the most useful tool of the Hammer (no pun intended) would be the potential carryover if the Braves eventually change their name. (This article is not debating whether they should change their name; please look at a more political website than Overtime Heroics for that answer.) A hammer would be associated with the franchise regardless of the name of the franchise (similar to how Johnny Unitas is a Baltimore legend that is recognized at Baltimore Ravens games even though he played for the Baltimore Colts). The Chop, on the other hand, offers less of a connection (and it would be incredibly unlikely that the Braves would change their name but not the Chop).
With the Hammer, the Braves could transition to a less contested form of appreciation for the team while honoring Aaron.
Brand Loyalty (That Pays)
A staple of Braves games is the Home Depot Tool Race. For the uninitiated, four costumed individuals run around the warning track in Atlanta. These individuals include B-Rush, Hammerin’ Hank, Phil the Bucket, and Two-Bit the Drill. As mentioned, this race is sponsored by Home Depot, so Home Depot would likely be more than happy to sponsor millions of foam Hank Hammers that would adorn Truist Park rather than the standard foam tomahawks.
Logistically speaking, the Braves have three upcoming opportunities to announce this change. January 22, 2022, is the first anniversary of Aaron’s death. February 5, 2022, would have been Aaron’s 88th birthday. April 13, 2022, is the 68th anniversary of Aaron’s first game in the Majors. They could reveal the hammer as the team’s iconography as a long-lasting tribute. Not only would it satisfy those that find the Chop disgraceful to baseball, but it would also likely be accepted by die-hard Braves fans who live and die by the Chop.
This article is not saying the Braves should change their name (or the Chop), but The Emory Wheel discussed “Atlanta Hammers” as a preferable name to the Braves.
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