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Braves Ditch Tomahawks After Pitcher Complains

Cardinals rookie Ryan Helsley is of Cherokee descent
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2019 6:18 AM CDT
Atlanta Braves fans cheer with a tomahawk chop during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, and the Braves' final game at Turner Field, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Atlanta. The...   (AP Photo/John Amis)
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(Newser) – Atlanta Braves fans cheering on their team against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night did not have a traditional tool to help: The team did not place foam tomahawks on seats before the game, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The reason? Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, objected to the "tomahawk chop" chant earlier in the series. "I think it's a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general," Helsley told the Post-Dispatch on Friday. "Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren't intellectual."

Helsley says he wasn't particularly aware of the Atlanta tradition, which Bleacher Report says dates back to 1991, until he pitched in a game last Thursday. Afterward, he looked into the history of the chant and voiced his displeasure. The Braves listened. "Out of respect for the concerns expressed by Mr. Helsley, we will take several efforts to reduce the Tomahawk Chop during our in-ballpark presentation today," the team said before Wednesday's game. It's not yet clear whether the Braves will take permanent steps to reduce the chant, but they won't have to worry about that until next season—the Cardinals beat them 13-1 Wednesday night to advance in the playoffs. Helsley didn't pitch in the game. (Read more Atlanta Braves stories.)

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