If you had a black mascot with a bone in his nose, you’d have a problem; if you had a Jew dancing around in a yarmulke, you’d have a problem.
Can Cleveland Win With Wahoo?
By John B Holway
For ten years, 1991- 2000, the three best teams in baseball were:
Atlanta won 84 more than New York, yet the Yanks won four World Series, Atlanta one, Cleveland none. (Two Yankee victories were over the Braves.) Does the reason lie in the strong negative vibes the Braves and Indians have awakened among native Americans?
In 1915 Cleveland changed its name from the Naps to the Indians. In the next 32 years they won only one World Series, 1920.
In ’47 Cleveland unveiled a new logo, “Chief Wahoo.” New owner Bill Veeck wanted to give his new team a “jolly” image. Nobody protested. The following year they beat – who else? – the Boston Braves in the World Series.
In the next 68 years they have never won another.
In 1993 three Cleveland pitchers – top reliever Steve Olin, Bobby Ojeda, and Tim Crews – were drinking and speed-boating in Florida when they slammed into a pier. Olin was decapitated; Crews was also instantly killed.
Cleveland did win the pennant and met Atlanta in the “all-Indian” World Series. Native American pickets came out in both cities.
But as far as I know, no one in the press or TV covered them. The Plain Dealer did run two paragraphs quoting a woman named Emily Brings Them, saying her children get teased by kids, who say, “Your father looks like Chief Wahoo.”
That was all.
A fan named Peter Pattakos snapped a picture of a painted fan and Robert Roche, an Apache, the tribe of Geronimo and Cochise. It’s the only such picture that I know of – no news or TV organization published one.
People feel the right to take our culture and stomp on it and have fun out of it. They’re rednecks, and we’re not going to stand for it.
American Indian Movement
“Braves” is not a Georgian name. It comes from New York City’s corrupt Tammany Hall, whose bosses were called “chiefs” and rank-and-file members were “braves.” When one chief bought the Boston NL franchise in 1913, he named them the “Braves.”
With five Hall of Famers in their dugout – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, and skipper Bobby Cox – for 20 years Atlanta was the most potent baseball team in America. Year after year they swept away opposition in their division. Almost every October they faced inferior clubs in the post-season. But year after year they were muscled off the field.
They won only one World Series – against another cursed team – Cleveland. (Well, one of them had to lose!)
1991. Flashy outfielder Deion “Neon” Sanders brought the tomahawk chop and phony chant from the Florida university Seminoles to the Braves, who had finished last for three straight years.
A local oil company gave away rubber tomahawks to fans attending a big Sunday game against the Dodgers. Tied 2-2 in the ninth, Atlanta put two men on, with David Justice up. “The crowd erupted” in a chant, recalls Atlanta Journal writer Steve Hummer. “It was like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – you couldn’t help but get chills.”
(Movie actress Jane Fonda, owner Ted Turner’s wife and a leading voice for liberal causes, gave a half-hearted pat, suggesting that she knew it wasn’t politically correct.)
For the post-season the Braves cordoned off a “free speech area” around the Hank Aaron statue. White fans, some in Indian war paint and headdress, milled around it, jeering. It was the start of the most heart-breaking streak in baseball history.
Braves post-season 1991-2005
|94||lost to Twins||(95)||3-4|
|98||lost to Toronto||(96)||2-4|
|1993||104||lost to Phils||(97)||2-4|
|96||lost to Yanks||(92)||2-4|
|101||lost to Marlins||(92)||2-4|
|106||lost to Padres||(98)||2-4|
|103||lost to Yankees||(98)||0-4|
|2000||95||lost to Cards||(95)||0-3|
|88||lost to Arizona||(92)||1-4|
|2002||101||lost to Giants||(95)||2-3|
|2003||101||lost to Cubs||(88)||2-3|
|2004||96||lost to Astros||(92)||2-3|
|2005||90||lost to Astros||(89)||1-3|
|25 total post-season series.|
|Won 12 and lost 13.|
Based on regular season victories, Atlanta was evenly matched once, against the 2000 Cards. (They lost.) In the other 24, the Braves were the favorite 19 times and underdogs five. By that standard, they should have had a 19-5 record. Twice they were upset in the World Series by inferior Yankee teams. Atlanta scored only one upset of their own, against the Indians in ’95 – well, one of them had to lose.
Those fans with their idiotic chops and chants may have intended to bring victory to their team. Did they actually bring disaster to a great franchise and cheat some of the greatest players of their generation out of World Series rings?
Our Blindfolded Press
This story has been a disgrace to the American press. For 25 years not a voice was raised to inform the TV or reading public – you and me – about a significant story being acted out in front of the Atlanta and Cleveland parks. Of course the public knew there were protesters, but we were not allowed to see their pictures or read what they had to say. The biggest names in American sports journalism walked right past the story on the way to the press entrance. But no one stopped to ask the protesters a question or said, “Heh, bring a camera here and get a picture.”
I don’t know of even one news outlet that defied the ban. Bob Costas, Joe Morgan, andTim McCarver of NBC; the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, the Atlanta and Cleveland papers – all meekly obeyed the ban. It was so complete that it had to come from a single source.
The finger of suspicion points to Commissioner Bud Selig.
If you have any information that I am wrong, please correct me.
The embargo was finally broken last month, 25 years later; the Post ran a long piece when Cleveland played the Nats. I seized my keyboard and dashed off a letter to the editor, naming names, including the Post. To my amazement, they printed it! But, I discovered, only in the first edition. And that can’t be found in any library. I must assume that a senior editor read it and blew his stack: “Who okayed this letter!? This sob says we censored the news! Censor the bum!”
I wrote to their top baseball columnist, Thomas Boswell, to ask if he or anyone else had covered the story. Tom, who has been very helpful in the past, did not reply. That’s the most eloquent answer he could have given. The Post, who went nose to nose against a president and brought him down, was afraid to report this story. It likes to say it reports the news “without fear or favor.” But in this case it’s a hollow boast.
What’s the Solution?
The Great Spirit sees everything, knows everything, and forgets nothing.
My mother used to say, “Politeness is to do and say the kindest thing in the kindest way.”
Both teams should give up their objectionable mascots. They should also find new and more positive nicknames.
Atlanta could tap its history and name its team after its most famous baseball son, Ty Cobb, the greatest player of his generation and the first man into the Hall of Fame, with more votes than Babe Ruth.
His nickname: The Georgia Peach.
I will go to Detroit and stamp my feet, and I will knock down every house in Alabama.
Thus did the greatest Native American in history predict the largest earthquake in the continent’s recorded history.
There’s a guy I’d want on my side!
Perhaps the greatest man ever to come out of Ohio, he forged the largest Native American federation ever known. His nickname was “The Comet.”
Instead of fighting Native American mojo, the Cleveland club should harness it. Why not change their name to the Cleveland Comets and see what happens?