Is the sun setting on the Atlanta Braves mascot name?
With the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians both reviewing their team mascot names due to objections of some who think the names are racist in conception, it’s a sure thing the Atlanta Braves will begin feeling some pressure as well.
The idea of changing team names that are associated with Native American culture has gained and lost steam numerous times over the years, but with many national corporations now reevaluating their branding as it applies to minorities in the wake of protests surrounding racial equality, professional sports are once again in the spotlight.
While “Brave” is not quite the pejorative term “Redskin” or even “Indian” could be construed to be, the imagery associated with the Atlanta MLB franchise — screaming Native American faces, Tomahawks, and of course, The Chop — will probably be enough for some to try and force the team to make a change.
The Braves are the oldest continuously operating franchise in professional sports, beginning in Boston in 1871, then moving to Milwaukee in 1953, and finally to Atlanta in 1966. The team name Braves was applied in 1912. With that kind of history behind them, changing the name will take a herculean effort by those who oppose the name Braves.
Chances are, the Atlanta Braves won’t change their name as they are part of a publicly-traded company (Liberty Media) which means a change would probably involve a shareholder vote, and ratification by the company’s board of directors. No easy task in modern corporate America.
But should this idea get pushed far enough to the point of needing some alternate mascot suggestions, a list of names that would both appease those concerned about the Native American objections while still recognizing the past history of the team would be important.
Currently, Atlanta has the NBA Hawks, NFL Falcons, MLS United, NLL Swarm, and WNBA Dream. Past professional franchises in the city include the Flames, Thrashers, Knights, and Chiefs. So all of those names are off the table for obvious reasons.
Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets, and Panthers are out of play, as those are the mascots for the three major universities in the Atlanta area.
Atlanta Braves Alternate No. 5: The Georgia Appalachians
Since the Braves aren’t technically in downtown Atlanta anymore after their move to suburban Cobb County, they don’t necessarily have to be called “Atlanta” anymore. Cobb County is home to Kennesaw Mountain, which then leads into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains as you travel further north in Georgia.
Georgia is known for its tremendous tree canopies and green spaces (it’s actually the greenest state in the nation) so a name that hearkens to the serene beauty in the state might be a good compromise.
Atlanta Braves Alternate No. 4: The Atlanta Firebirds
A firebird is another name for a phoenix and Atlanta has been compared to the phoenix in its rise from the ashes after the Civil War and Sherman’s march to the sea.
There’s a bronze statue in downtown Atlanta titled, “Atlanta From the Ashes”. The 1969 sculpture depicts a woman being raised by a phoenix, referring to a bird in Egyptian mythology that was consumed by fire and rose from the ashes.
This would be a fitting tribute for a team that has also risen from their own ashes over the years.
Atlanta Braves Alternate No. 3: The Atlanta Bucks
This name could have a two-fold positive change for the team. It could help retain some of the Braves roots, as deer are associated with fertility and virility in some Native American cultures. The speed, leaping ability, and strength of a buck are things of legend.
Deer are also prevalent throughout the state of Georgia and are a big part of the state’s ecosystem. It also ties into the team’s days in Milwaukee, as that city’s NBA team is called the Bucks. This one could be a natural.
Atlanta Braves Alternate No. 2: The Atlanta Hammers
The Hammers almost seems too easy. It is, of course, an homage to arguably the greatest Brave of all time, Henry Aaron, or as he was more commonly known during his playing days, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
Aaron was the man who broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record of 714 dingers — and in the minds of some who feel Barry Bonds deserves more than just an asterisk — still holds the record with his 755 career homers.
The team’s stadium resided on Hank Aaron Drive when they played at Turner Field, and the luxury club was called the 755 Club. Nods to Aaron’s greatness are as common as a cup of coffee to a Braves fan. What better way to memorialize the icon who fought through rampant racism as he chased Ruth’s record than to grace the team with a variant of his nickname.
Atlanta Braves Alternate No. 1: The Atlanta Kings
This would be perhaps the most fitting name for the team who resides in the home of one of the greatest opponents of racism and bigotry in the history of the world, Martin Luther King Jr. Atlanta is home to the King Center, so why not the Atlanta Kings?
Besides the grandeur and nobility associated with the name Kings, it would be a reminder that the powerful fight for racial equality has its roots in Atlanta, which has been called the “city too busy to hate”.
It would serve as a fitting name for a team that has a long history of success in the city that has been called the Capital City of the South. A tip of the cap to Dr. King, and a name that makes some swell with pride. The Braves are, after all, baseball royalty.